RAISING“Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him. Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands. How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them! He will not be put to shame when he confronts his accusers…” Psalm 127: 3-5 (NLT)

What does “family” mean to you? One of the dictionary definitions that Webster gives us is, “Family |ˈfam(ə)lē|: a person or people related to one and so to be treated with a special loyalty or intimacy.” Some of us have blood related family, and some of us do not… but I believe that this feeling “part of” a “family” of some form is something that we all deeply desire.

I like to blog and read them as well. I recently read this great quote on a blog written by a Christian mom named Amy Roberts:
“The Lord views children as an important part of the family unit. They are called a “reward” and a “heritage.” It is our duty as parents to recognize the privilege of raising children whom God has blessed with unique gifts, talents and personalities. No two quivers (families) are exactly alike, just as no two arrows are fashioned the same. [The concept of] “raising arrows” is all about keeping in mind the fact that as Christians, we are raising unique individuals who will someday be let loose to fly with precision and accuracy at the target set before them by the Lord. We shape and sand selflessly with that thought in mind.”

I love this quote and the responsibility that it carries. The next generation will take care of us and will be the one’s leading congress, preaching, teaching, creating, designing, and healing. I was reminded again by a friend the other day of the significance of this verse: “Train up a child in the way they should go,” (Prov 22:6). The emphasis is on the word “they” for a reason… each of the children in our lives are unique and different, so we should treat them as such. What one child needs and responds to may be very different from what another needs and responds to.

My wife and I are not parents, yet, but hope to one day be given that blessing and responsibility. We do, however, have several friends and family members with children whom we have been given the privilege of influencing. I bolded it so that you really get that! Whether we have our own children or not, we are responsible for impacting, encouraging, and guiding the next generation. The children all around us are going to effect this nation and world and we are called to lead by example and to assist their parents in providing a clear path to relationship with God. Check out Matthew 19:14 (NLT): “Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.”” What can we learn from this?

Two things stick out to me:
1. Don’t get in the way of children and Jesus. What are some things you can do in your life to encourage and grow the babies, children, and youth around you. God has put specific children in your life for you to influence… will you be obedient to that? What does this look like practically?

2. Heaven is more accessible when we are “child-like.” What can you learn from the children around you? Personally, as a Christian Counselor, I can often learn more from my child and adolescent patients than I do from the obstinate and stubborn adults I sometimes work with. There is a wonder, awe, purity, and hope that comes from taking the perspective of a child. Try it out!

“Anxiety is the rust of life, destroying its brightness and weakening its power. A childlike and abiding trust in Providence [God’s will] is its best preventive and remedy.” Tyron Edwards

One final thought regarding family and influence… God gives us this commandment in Exodus 20:12: “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” Is it possible that this command holds a double meaning? First, we are called to honor our Earthly parents (even when we feel they are “unworthy” of our honor). Second, what if “father” represents God and “mother” represents “the Church”?

Additional questions to reflect on today:

1. Is there any unforgiveness or anger towards my Earthly parents that I may be holding on to? Am I willing to release that today to find a new level of freedom?

2. Are their behaviors or habits in my life currently that I would like to change to bring greater honor and glory to God and his bride, the Church? How can I better honor the work that God is doing in my church body or my community? What are some ways He may be asking me to serve His bride?

Father, I love you. I thank you for children and ask that you would help me to see the world from their perspective today! Give me child-like wonder despite chaos, anxiety, and worry that tries to invade my mind. Help me, Jesus, to identify children and youth in my life that could benefit from my desire to live fully for you! Show me, Lord, what I can do to influence and encourage the next generation. I pray that you would lead and guide me to a place of true forgiveness and healing in the relationship between my parents and I. I just want to honor and serve you and your house, your Bride, the Church; give me direction and guide me to serving opportunities at my church and in my family. In your precious name, Amen.