Free book from Gary: The Measure of One’s Life book
Children can become empty and lonely on the inside when nobody has ever really cared for them or tried to understand them. They never had a warm and loving relationship with their parents. Many of them don’t really know their parents, and furthermore they don’t care to. Their parents don’t know them either. They were too busy making money and having fun to listen to what their kids were saying. And so, we’re told, the younger generation is facing an identity crisis. They’re crying for attention, groping for some sort of significant relationship with somebody who cares.
The saddest thing is that this is happening in professing Christian homes as well as in unbelieving homes. What is the answer? The answer begins with believing what God says right here in this Psalm and acting on the basis of it. “Lo, children are a heritage of the Lord.” The word heritage signifies an inheritance given, not according to hereditary right, but according to the willing desire of the giver. Every new child born into a Christian home is a gracious gift from God, a lovely legacy from the Lord entrusted to our care to be loved, cherished, provided for and properly molded for his glory. “The fruit of the womb is his reward.”
Again, the word reword does not mean something earned or deserved, but something freely given through the generous decision of the giver. The inability to have children is no stigma, therefore. It doesn’t mean God is angry with us or isn’t smiling on us. It simply means that he knows best what we need. And he also knows there are the masses of unloved children whom childless couples can pour their lives into with great spiritual profit for all concerned. He always gives what is best. But when he allows us to have children, they are a gracious gift from him. There is no question about that when we stand over the crib and stare down at our beautiful bundle of joy, peacefully sleeping or contentedly cooing. We may begin to wonder a little about it during those first 2:00 a.m. feedings. And the doubts may really balloon if that little bundle of joy becomes a threatening intruder who upsets our schedule, restricts our freedom to do as we please, monopolizes our time, or seems to alienate the affections of our mate. That’s when we need to flee to the Word, and to the Lord of the Word, to have our spirits encouraged and our perspective adjusted. Children are a heritage from the Lord.
Maybe you are well on your way down the precarious path of parenthood. When you look at your child, what do you see? A nerve shattering machine, or a heritage from the Lord? A house wrecker, or a heritage from the Lord? A work maker, or a heritage from the Lord? A source of embarrassment before your friends, or a heritage from the Lord? A competitor for your spouse’s attention, or a heritage from the Lord?
Will you ask God to help you get your perspective straight? “Lord, help me see my children as a blessed gift from your gracious hand.” You may need to pray it many times a day for awhile, but that could become the beginning of some exciting new changes in your home, the gateway to genuine joy in your relationship with your children.
Children are much more sensitive to our attitude toward them than we imagine. And they often respond with the same sort of attitudes they receive. They act as they sense we are acting toward them, and that’s where most of our discipline problems begin. Oh, we love them, but they make so many demands on us that inconvenience us and bother us. So our old natures rebel and we let them know in subtle little ways that they are a bother. And they become more of a bother. They won’t get much love and affection that way, but at least they’ll get attention, and that’s better than nothing. But they will grow up with hostilities, complexes, and resentments that defy description.
One day sooner than we think they’ll be gone, and we won’t remember the muddy shoes, the messy rooms, the embarrassing moments they caused us or the encroachments they made on our time. We’ll only remember the happy times we spent together. And we’ll wish there had been many more. There could have been if we had looked on them as a blessing from the Lord rather than a burden or a bother.
Children are not only a precious inheritance, however. They are also likened to arrows. There is a difference of opinion as to what this scriptural metaphor is intended to teach. Arrows are a source of protection, and maybe the Psalmist was referring to the care and protection which children can give their parents in later years. But arrows, unlike swords, could go where the warrior himself could not reach. Such is the case with our children. From many a godly home arrows have reached to the ends of the earth, carrying the gospel message to sin darkened hearts. They were like arrows in their father’s hand.
But arrows have to be made. They don’t just happen. God gives us a child like a raw piece of wood, and asks us to shape him. So we whittle, sand, and polish, fashioning that stick into an arrow, straight and strong. Children are not just an inheritance, you see; they are a sacred trust. God loans them to us for awhile to prepare them for his use. They really belong to him, and the sooner we acknowledge that, the more willing we shall become to get on with the shaping process. One dramatic way of acknowledging it is to dedicate them to God. If they belong to him anyway, then let us decisively acknowledge that by consecrating them to his use for his glory just as Hannah and Elkanah did with their son, Samuel (1 Sam. 1:9‑28). Let us promise God that with his help we will mold their young lives into the kind of people he wants them to be.
A husband and wife ought to give their child to God even before he is born. And they should pray together after the birth of the child, willingly dedicating themselves to train him as God directs. Some churches conduct public child dedication services. In others, the pastor participates in a quiet act of dedication in the home. The important thing is that the parents themselves covenant with God to handle their children as a sacred trust, arrows to be shaped for God’s glory.
Raising children is obviously a serious responsibility. And isn’t it strange–for almost any other job we are required to take some specialized training first. But for the most important business in life, the shaping of young lives for God’s glory, we can get away with none at all if we want to. For that reason some people have drawn the erroneous conclusion that being a good parent comes naturally. On the contrary, it takes a great deal of study and continuous attention to the assignment. But God’s guidebook is available, and we are going to search it for the help we need. Since this is one job we can’t quit, we might as well press on together and learn what God has to say about being a better parent.
Before we do, though, will you note the last verse in this great Psalm? “Happy is the man who hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.”
How many children constitute a full quiver? That may vary with each couple depending on how many children God wants you to have. My quiver is full at three, but yours is between you and the Lord. It isn’t clear in the verse exactly who will not be ashamed, the parents or the children. But in a Christ controlled home where God is the builder and parents are laboring for him, neither the parents nor the children will be ashamed of each other.
But Satan, the enemy of God’s people, will be subdued and God will thus be glorified. Isn’t that what you desire for your family?
Dedicate yourself and your children to God. Ask him to help you view them as a precious inheritance, arrows to be shaped, lives to be molded.
Ask him to keep your eyes on the potential rather than the problems and to give you the wisdom you need for the great task ahead.