|Posted by christiandoula on November 9, 2009 at 7:17 AM|
These words come from a baby shower devotional I attended. They are so full of God's wisdom that I asked the author, Mrs. Talcott, to send them to me so I could share them with you.
Behold, children are a gift of the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one=s youth.
How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them;
They will not be ashamed
When they speak with their enemies in the gate.
I love these verses. They were posted on the wall in my mother-in-law's kitchen the summer that we lived there, when our son was born. Since then, I have come back to the beautiful imagery for reassurance as our family kept expanding. No matter how many comments you will get from impolite strangers in the grocery store, these verses confirm that in God's eyes, families are a blessing and a reward. God has given us this awesome gift, what does it matter what the rest of society thinks?
Mama, you know in ways that some of us do not realize how much children are a blessing. You and your husband have wanted children for several years, and have learned lessons of patience and trust while you waited on God for a baby. So I wanted to take some time to look at how children are a blessing, and how, even in your hard days of parenting, you can come back to this promise for comfort.
Children fill our houses with joy and excitement. You will experience this the moment you meet your baby, and the feeling will only deepen with time. You won't be happy all the time, and your children won't be easy all the time, but you will look back on your days of married-without-children, and feel that your evenings must have been incredibly boring.
Children remind us how our faith should be. Children love you unconditionally, and are quick to forgive your offenses against them. Do we love and adore God without reserve, even when he disciplines us? While we will not be forgiving God, do we obey His command to forgive others in the manner that we have been forgiven?
Not only do children believe every word that we say, they delight in every word that we say. They love to have you talk to them, to interact with them, to be involved in any activity that you're involved in. Can we say that about ourselves and God? How many days do we delight in His word and in His work?
Children remind us of the relationship of dependence we have on God. You will do so many things for your child that he will not even realize he needs. As you provide food and shelter for your little baby, and love and nurturing, you will see that he has no knowledge of his own needs. We are so dependent on God, we cannot even see the extent of it! You will also notice quickly that he has no appreciation for the provision you give him, much less the sacrifices you have made for him. How God must be grieved when we take for granted the world, the life, and the salvation that He has given us.
Also, as soon as you meet your baby, you will experience a rush of love for your little one that will not diminish. He does not understand the extent of your love for him, how you hurt when he hurts (even when they're doing tests on him at the hospital!), how you grieve when he goes astray. God feels that love for us. We are his adopted children, and we cannot know the depth of divine love that hurts and grieves with us, and mourns when we sin.
And last, but longest today, is that God uses our children to sanctify us. He sanctifies us in many ways that I know of, and I'm sure as my children age, I will learn others. But here are the ways that came to mind as a few of the things that I've learned so far.
He teaches us to trust in His sovereignty. For you guys, this started years ago as you waited for a baby. You knew that God's plan for you was perfect, and meant for your good, and also that His timing was perfect. You knew that He would give you a baby at exactly the right time. As you wait for your baby to be born, you will be learning this lesson again. I have a dear friend who is about 4 days overdue now, and she is not exhibiting trust in God's plan and confidence that this is for her good. The emotions that we are seeing from her are impatience, frustration, and sadness as she waits. Waiting in the final days of pregnancy can be one of the toughest things to do, but do it with joy, knowing that God knows exactly when to bring your baby to you.
As your children age, you will learn to trust through your child's injuries and illnesses.
The biggest area of trust that God is constantly teaching me, though, is trusting in him when things don't go my way. As your little baby wakes you up in the middle of the night, again, remember that God has ordained his general need to eat, but also your specific baby's need at that hour. Use that instance, and many others like it, to ask God for help in your hour of weakness, exhaustion, and frustration with your child. Remember that it is not chance that anything happens to us, but an act of God for our growth.
Similarly, God teaches us to depend on him. Parenting will teach you that you are very weak indeed. Too weak to love your child the way you should, too weak to discipline your child the way you should, and too weak to fight against temptation to sin. But God is stronger than all of these, and with His help, you can love and discipline your child in a way the glorifies Him, and resist the temptation to sin against your child. Pray often, both in dedicated times of prayer, and in the moments where you feel weak. God has given us His Holy Spirit as a comforter and helper, and He will help us when we cry out to him.
God uses our children to train us out of our selfishness. Your sweet little baby has already required you to give up physical comfort as you've carried him. While you'll be amazed at how much more normal you feel after he is born, there will be other ways where it is quickly apparent that your life is no longer your own. You will give up other hobbies and pursuits as you spend your time diapering, nursing, and training your little one. You will give up your energy for him, your money for him, and your sleep for him. You will give up your body for him as you nurse and nurture him, and you'll have days where you wish nobody would ever touch you, ever, ever again. And you thought those were the kinds of things that you sacrificed when you got married! Suddenly, you will realize that the petty things that married couples without children fight over matter so little you can hardly believe you used to be that person. (Our story?) View this as a blessing! God is slowly perfecting you into the image of His son, who gave up everything for us.
And last, but not least, is our pride. It is amazing how quickly your pride will be challenged by this little one. He will spit up all down the back of your shirt right after you get to church, and you'll have to spend the rest of the morning smelling delightful and feeling slightly sticky. And this is just the beginning. As he grows, you'll be humiliated by his behavior in public areas (as I was yesterday in the library :), by the temper tantrums in church, by the way he tells Grandma exactly what you thought of the new movie she sent. All these are gracious blows from a loving heavenly Father working on your pride and vanity.
As your baby grows, you will sin against him. Don't let your pride get in the way of apologizing and asking him to forgive you. Remember that your child is a gift from God, not yours to yell at or hit in anger because you've been wronged. When you do these things, humble yourself before God and your child and set the example for apologizing and asking forgiveness in your home. God is glorified when we confess our sins to each other and seek true reconciliation, even when one of the parties is a toddler.
But there is another aspect to having pride as a parent that you will have to be careful to avoid; it is not something that your child will naturally dismantle for you. And that is the idea that your way of parenting is what will automatically produce righteousness and holiness in your child. For me, this is attachment parenting. I knew that if I could be a Dr. Sears-type parent (ignoring his advice on spanking, of course), my child would turn out beautifully. He'd be attached in all the right ways, none of the wrong ones, and grow into the kind of godly, perfect teenager who listens to his parents and obeys them. You all can laugh at that, because it is foolish. Be humble enough on your first child to realize that your plans for parenting will have to grow and change as your baby does. Whether it be Dr. Sears parenting, homeschooling, or paedocommunion, nothing that we can do will guarantee his eternal salvation. There is nothing inherently wrong with any of these things (well, we can talk about paedocommunion), but you need to be discerning as your child grows, aware of his attitudes and motivations. Teach him early to love God and despise his own sin. There is no magic key for this other than diligence, constant instruction, and lots and lots of prayer. When you are having trouble parenting, no matter what the issue, humble yourself and ask for advice. Then take the advice, no matter how different it is from what you had in mind. Our pastor's wife can probably remember having several conversations like that with me, where I think I held my tongue out of politeness, but inside I was thinking of every possible reason to disregard the advice she had given me. Don't do that! The older women in the church have experience, and often battle scars :), from raising children. Let them disciple you! Trust in their wisdom. Remember that your most important task as a parent is to train your child in righteousness, and the Bible is the only right manual for that.
We cannot wait to meet your little baby, and look forward to watching you and your husband settle into parenthood!