Switzerland is a small country in Europe that is known for its beautiful, high mountains. Over six hundred years ago, Switzerland was not free but belonged to its larger neighbor, Austria. The Swiss people longed to be free. One patriotic man, William Tell, was a strong woodsman. He was also the best marksman with a bow and arrow in his canton (small state or province). He had a young son whom he loved dearly.
Albert Gessler was the Austrian in charge of Switzerland. To upset and anger the Swiss people, he put his hat on a pole in the town square and demanded that they bow down to it. When William Tell refused, Gessler arrested him and put him in jail. A short time later, Gessler tied Tell’s son to a tree and set an apple on his head. He had Tell brought to him and told the prisoner that if he could shoot the apple off his son’s head, he could go free.
William Tell very carefully chose the arrow he placed on his bow. Slowly he aimed. The boy, trusting his father, stood tall and still. The arrow flew, cutting the apple in half. Gessler couldn’t believe his eyes, but he let William Tell go free.
When William Tell chose his arrow, he chose a very straight one. He would never have chosen a scuffed or crooked one. He checked the shafts for balance, the heads for sharpness. It was important that the arrow went where he aimed it.
Today, the term “straight arrow” means a person who always tells the truth and follows the rules. He or she can be depended on in time of trouble and when it is important to do a job well. He doesn’t have to be watched all the time, because he obeys his leaders and never flies off at some target of his own.
When a leader or boss chooses a person for an important job, he looks at each person carefully and chooses a straight arrow. Others will have to depend on that person. The boss doesn’t want a crooked arrow, someone who might lie, or cheat, or steal, or fail to do his very best.
The person who makes arrows, called an arrowsmith, chooses good materials. Even so, sometimes an arrow can become warped or its tip might become dull. Then the arrowsmith must straighten it or sharpen the tip.
Like everyone else, we Latter-day Saints, may sometimes get “warped,” and lose our way in living the gospel. We may forget to obey Heavenly Father’s commandments. Or we may forget to listen to what He wants us to do. He and His Son, Jesus Christ, are the master arrowsmiths. They can rebuild and straighten our lives if we let them. Through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice of His life, we can be straight arrows in life, if we repent.
When Heavenly Father, like William Tell, needs an arrow for an important job, He looks for a straight arrow, a person alert and ready to do His will.
Are you one of these arrows?