I have been thinking a lot about the biblical family, lately. I think having #4 on the way has me thinking about children, their purpose, and the way they change our lives. In today's culture, children are--for all our pro-life propaganda--looked upon as inconveniences and hindrances. Perhaps you think that our children are those that never worry or irritate their parents. I am at this moment, typing to the wail of the child that woke up thirty minutes after I put him down, and hasn't stopped screaming since...I know about the inconvenience of children.
But only in the last couple of generations has convenience taken such a top priority. Or perhaps we should call it something else--easy, or easier. When something is an inconvenience, it's harder, is it not?? But I digress.
Sometimes I wonder if we separate too much the world of our children and our relationship with God. I know I struggle to find time to read Scripture undisturbed, as my idea of a devotion time is to be quiet, with God, in unbroken concentration, often resulting in frustration and anger that I can't even have a time with the Lord without interruption.
Let me illustrate with a well-known figure of the media right now--Michelle Duggar. She, if you don't know, is the mother of 18 children, and they host a reality show called 18 and Counting. I have heard Christian women slam her as they express their own distress in parenting one or two children. They don't understand how she can be so "perfect". The fact that she seems to never lose her cool, she is always smiling, she never seems to be at a loss for energy or inspiration. I think the presence of a real live mother who has such a beautiful life with her family makes us other women ashamed and jealous. However, if you peruse her family's site, she makes no bones about the fact that there have been times when she had a much smaller family (like six)and felt very exhausted, frustrated, and overwhelmed.
My question is, has the Lord used her children to mold and shape her in to the woman she is?? Have her children, in essence, been a tool for her sanctification?? (ie process into Christ-likeness) In having such a large family, has she had to learn to so totally depend on God's strength, that after having done so for so many years, she has learned to instinctively do things like "cast all your cares upon Him" and by so doing has "peace that passes all understanding".
We see larger families and I we think say to ourselves,"I am glad it's her and not me, I could never handle that many children."
Do you see what the implication is here?? That we, in and of ourselves, are the ones holding the reins for our families. That we decide to only have as many children as we can handle--in our own strength. It's true that a couple children are all we can handle in our own strength. But if we could come to the realization that we are not to do anything in our own strength--especially parent--perhaps we could begin to view children as a means for our own Christ-likeness. That the poor attitudes we display when something goes ary due to our children also need to be weeded out and disposed of, knowing that we are to "be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
Yes, parenting is hard. Parenting our children to love the Lord and obey Him is even harder. But I don't remember convenience clauses added to any of the Bible's references to teach and train our children.