We have 4. Four little amazing people who each in their own unique and awesome way have totally changed our lives for the better.
And they are not appendages, excess baggage or unwanted clutter. They are very much a part of who we are as a family- each one playing a part in defining, well, us.
If you DO have kids, hopefully at this point you are saying, "well, YEAH, duh". Sounds like common sense, right?
Maybe. But, then again, maybe not.
I'm afraid I might be guilty of erring on the maybe not side more often than not.
Don't hear me wrong. I do NOT see my kids as clutter or excess baggage. No matter how many times people have seemed surprised that we actually DO take them overseas, that mindset has not yet rubbed off on me. I'm not even kidding. I can't count the number of times I have been asked the question, "Oh you live overseas? Do your kids go with you?" Umm, did you catch the part where I said I LIVE overseas. I mean, seriously, being asked that question once would make me just think that person was being silly, but being asked countless times in all sorts of settings, makes me think, well I don't know really what it makes me think besides that people vastly misunderstand what I mean when I say "LIVE OVERSEAS". Anyway.
All that to say, MAYBE I have NOT seen my kids the way God intends me to when I am looking at my life.
Example? Ok. Have you ever been asked to do something, big or small, that you had a feeling might be from the Lord, but in making your decision you thought things like:
"well, in spite of the fact that I have (however many) kids, God can provide the strength and energy I would need to do that"
"in spite of the strain this (could, might) put on my family, I know God will enable, provide etc"
"God, I'm not sure that you really know what you're asking of me here, but I'll be obedient in spite of the fact that I have (however many) kids and this is going to be super challenging."
Yeah, I confess I have thought all of those things and then some. As if the Creator of the universe, the Giver of life is not already fully aware of our current family dynamics!
This is something God has gradually been teaching me for months, and I finally had my "aha" moment a few days ago. Time and again over the past few months he has brought me to the same passage. Not an unfamiliar one at all. I actually referenced the first part of the passage (verses 1-2 of the same chapter below) a few days ago when I wrote about my current state of sleep deprivation. (side note- we have had 2 full nights of sleep IN A ROW! WHOOO HOOO!)
Here's where I've been in the Word:
"Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate."
Psalm 127:3-5 ESV
Maybe this is not a familiar passage to you, but it's one I've heard at least bits and pieces of for years. The whole children are a heritage from the Lord, arrows in the hand of a warrior, blessed is the man with a full quiver etc etc. Familiar stuff. Often quoted in various ways. Here's the part that I've really been thinking on that I've never really thought about that much before. Arrows are weapons. USED in battle. They don't just sit in the quiver looking pretty, they are USED. They enable the described man in the psalm not to be put to shame when he contends with (NIV translation) his enemies at the gate. They (our children) are part of the spiritual battles that we as believers fight on a daily basis. And according to this passage, they make us more equipped to fight!
This has been such a refreshing perspective for me! When God calls me to a task, he doesn't enable me to complete it, IN SPITE OF the fact that my quiver is full, but often he might call me to that very task BECAUSE of my precious children.
And you better believe this makes me, more than ever, want to be sure I am doing my job of discipling and equipping my kids. Just a few weeks ago, I posted about being entrusted with their little lives and how overwhelming that is. Of course still overwhelming at times because that's just how I roll, but also so refreshing to think of the strength that God places in families.
The things God places before us as a family are not jobs to be done IN SPITE OF the little members of our household, but BECAUSE OF. Thank you Lord for our family that you have created very much on purpose and for the tasks you set before us each day. May we be ever aware of your purposes and may we keep our focus on you!