3 Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward. 4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth. 5 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.
Jenny and I have seven children. I always knew I wanted to have lots of kids, but I never dreamed we would end up with 7. And we’re not even 40 yet.
Invariably, whenever we go out, we get a lot of stares and even gasps. You can’t miss our vehicle as we drive a huge, white Chevy Express 3500 Van (we opted not to get the extended 15 passenger cab and settled for the 12 passenger only).
At first, most people are somewhere between curious and shocked. I guess it’s not that common anymore to have such a large family. If we’re going somewhere to eat, the people sitting around us get that scared, panicked look on their faces. I call it the “Oh God, please don’t let all those children sit next to us!“-look. We get the same looks when we go to the library, the movies, the grocery, or if we’re visiting a new church.
We also get asked the same set of questions. They usually go something like this:
- Are these all your children? (ie. are we watching someone else’s kids today)
- Are these all YOUR children? (ie. are they the biological product of both me AND Jenny and not combinations from previous relationships.)
- Are there any twins / triplets / multiples?
- Are you Catholic (Mormon / Polygamist / some kind of crazy religious cult)?
- Did you know you wanted to have a big family?
- Are you done yet?
- Have you ever seen John and Kate Plus 8? You should totally have a reality TV show. (this question has somewhat fallen out of favor since to the demise of the Gosselin’s marriage).
- Are you friends with the Duggars?
- Have you ever heard of birth control? (Yes, believe it or not, I’ve been asked that many times.)
Mind you – most of the time, the people asking these question are total strangers.
At first, Jenny and I were a little leery of all the attention we were getting. I’m not sure what the magic number was, but I think it was when we hit 5. Even though 4 is not all that common these days, it was still within the conceivability realm of the average Joe. Once we hit 5, it was like we each grew an extra set of arms or something.
What’s absolutely fascinating is watching how the same people will change their dispositions after observing us for 5-10 minutes. Our children sit down. The older ones help serve the younger ones. When children misbehave, they receive correction. Consistent, firm, correction. Sometimes, I have to excuse myself from the table with a naughty child, but when we return, it’s like a brand new child joined the family!
On more occasions than I can count, we’ve been approached by many of these voyeurs observing our family – telling us that we’re doing an amazing job with our children or that they can’t believe how well behaved they are. I often get another curious comment from some parents like “I’ve got only 2 and I can’t control them at all. They don’t listen to me and I can’t take them anywhere.”
This is not my vain attempt to brag about our parenting skills. Jenny and I are not keepers of some secret formula or smarter than any of you. But we recognized long ago that without God’s grace, we would be totally helpless to raise children properly — whether it’s 1 or 5 or a dozen of them.
It’s saddening to me that parents have abdicated all of their God-given authority and, more importantly, responsibility to train up their children in righteousness and discipline. These days, we’re more interested in being our daughter’s best friend or our son’s Facebook buddy. We want to be the cool Dad that lets our children get away with everything we never could do. WHO is the parent?
It’s also troublesome to me that children are looked upon as a burden – that the more we have, the more mouths we have to feed, we’re just unable to handle the overwhelming responsibility and stress.
Solomon wrote in Psalms 127 above – that children are a REWARD for the man of God, like a quiver full of arrows. When I think about the church today and how many of them have such a deep need to support evangelism in the most remote parts of the world, thousands of miles across the ocean — I often wonder if we miss the fertile soil right in front of our faces in which we can plant the Word of God. How much more effectively can we further the Kingdom by raising godly families in our neighborhoods, cities, states and country?
What’s absolutely revolting to me is when families that profess to love Christ and His church will bend over backwards to send their offerings to the missionaries in Asia or Africa but won’t do a thing to help their own brothers and sisters in need.
We must turn our hearts to our children in order to lead them to God, embrace the blessings of a fruitful womb, and raise up a generation in righteousness for His name’s sake.