“…I’ve got five on it…”

It is interesting to note the reaction I get whenever people find out I am the father of four children, with another one on the way.

“You know what causes that, right?”

Indeed, but I think I’d like to do a bit more research.

“Wow, are they all yours?”

Right, well, glad to see good manners haven’t impugned your sense of curiosity. But yes, they are all mine.

When I lived out on the East Coast it seemed that I was tolerated for having a lot of kids because that’s just how ignorant we are down here in the South. We keep our wives barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen while our obnoxious buck-toothed hooligans run around like a bunch of drunken orangutans. Or maybe that’s just my kinfolk.

All sarcasm aside, is it just me or is there an increasing bias against large families right now? It sure seems that way to me. Which is ironic considering this country’s obsession with youth.

While so many adults seem to cling desperately to a sort of prolonged adolescence, I sense a palpable hostility toward large families. Why is that?

Fortunately the reactions are not uniformly sneering. Of course, our church is very enthusiastic about children and we have many friends with large families.

One local resident tells me of how charming a sight it is to see Candace walking around town with our children following her like little ducklings.

“It looks like the Von Trapp family singers or something,” he told me with a laugh. “It’s delightful to see them all walking along together in line, it’s not something you see much of anymore.”

From the most primitive human societies through the rise and fall of numerous empires, children have often served as “trophies” for a culture. Prizes to be sought after and won. If history has shown anything it shows that if you want to influence a nation, influence the children.

When I think about my own children and of what I hope for their future, as well as what I hope for my community and nation, I think about Psalm 127:

“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!”

I love this idea, that one’s children are like arrows in the hands of a mighty warrior. The metaphors and illustrations abound!

Arrows are instruments crafted with careful precision. They must be shaped correctly or they’re nigh on useless. If properly handled they are able to move effortlessly toward their targets. If handled poorly they can become off-balance and are a danger to everyone.

My father taught each of his sons how to bowhunt. One of the most important things I remember was that the entire process involved discipline and control. It was not done recklessly or with haste.

None of us are getting any younger, and someday even the best and brightest of us will shuffle off this mortal coil. To whom will we leave this terrestrial sphere? To our children.

Should we not raise a generation of strong and capable children? A generation of children with the skills and intelligence to repair the damage incurred by their more foolish ancestors? A generation of children with the patience and discernment to further the progress of their wiser ancestors?

Where will these children come from?

I’m willing to contribute five to the cause… how about you?

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4 thoughts on ““…I’ve got five on it…”

  1. This is such a complex issue. Unless parents have a vision for their children that’s different from the status-quo, I don’t think most even think about their intentions in raising offspring. Most children (at least in our area up here) are raised in day care and then sent off to school. How could anyone place a life they were passionately striving to shape under someone else’s influence for most of that child’s waking hours?

    Other adults are more concerned with shaping THEMSELVES into an arrow: aimed at a higher salary, status; whatever self-satisfying ambition they have. Children are born into that need for status – being parents is part of “making it,” right? – then sacrificed on the altar of ambition.

    Really, why do we care how our children are shaped? Why do we have a vision for them that is outside ourselves, and a willingness to lay down our ambition to give everything we are, raising them for God’s glory? Only by the grace of that God we long to glorify! We see the purpose for their lives because He has shown it to us. We want to raise a generation to change this world because we know Who this world belongs to, and He’s given us a glimpse of the splendor that could be!

    Remembering these things gets me off my high horse. 🙂 But for the grace of God, I would probably be semi-committed to my marriage, striving more for personal satisfaction at work than at home, caring more what my boss thought of me than my God or my husband, and letting someone else teach my kids who they are and why they’re here. I know you know this, Matthew, and your wife, too: Your heart for your family is what it is because your mind has been renewed and conformed to the mind of God. Knowing where that understanding comes from drives me to pray for revival in our world, our country, and even in our churches. Only when people love what God loves will they love family and parenthood in a way that brings glory to the Father of fathers. May it be in our lifetime.

  2. That said, I agree with you whole-heartedly and I embrace the privilege and responsibility of contributing however many God blesses us with to the cause. 🙂

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