Are you a parent? I am and I struggle daily with being a parent. It's really hard and scary work. Parenting is not for the faint of heart.
In America we organize everything around our kids. Over the last few years there have been helicopter parents and now lawn mower parents (I'll let you hit the Duck Duck Go Machine if you don't know what those are).
I get it. My children are the apple of my eye. Their safety, well-being, and protection are at the top of my list. Yet, I have had to learn some hard lessons in the parenting realm. The hardest lesson is that ultimately, I can't be God for them.
Kids, parenting, and family have always been an issue for humanity. In one of the songs of ascent, Psalm 127, the people sung of their children.
Unless it is the Lord who builds the house, the builders’ work is pointless. Unless it is the Lord who protects the city, the guard on duty is pointless. It is pointless that you get up early and stay up late, eating the bread of hard labor because God gives sleep to those he loves. No doubt about it: children are a gift from the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a divine reward. The children born when one is young are like arrows in the hand of a warrior. The person who fills a quiver full with them is truly happy! They won’t be ashamed when arguing with their enemies in the gate.
I'm fascinated with this song because it at first glance it feels disjointed. The first half feels like it doesn't belong with the second.
We idealize the Bible and the people whose lives it reflects. It turns out that these people struggled with parenting, just like we do. They wanted to do whatever they could for their kids. Yet, on their journey to the Temple they had time to process and think about what parenting is supposed to be like. Sometimes, space and time provide for wisdom.
Speaking of wisdom, this song is credited to Solomon, the most wise king in the history of the people of God.
We get perspective in this song that children are a gift. They are equated to arrows, an offensive weapon. This helps to see that the goal of parenting is not to keep kids at home under our thumb. The goal of parenting is to send children into the world and to hit the mark. Just like an archer with a bow.
The thing that really strikes me though is the insistence in the song that raising kids is not about all our activity. It is most definitely about trusting God to be at work.
God is to build the house. God is to protect the house. God is to provide for the house.*
My goodness our Christian culture needs this reminder, does it not?
We see ourselves, unintentionally, as their god. We don't trust God to build the house, to protect the house, or provide for the house. We take all those things on ourselves.
Faith is something that we can embrace and live out or just talk about. When it comes to our children, we find out what we really believe.
Do you trust God to build your house? Do you trust God to protect your house? Do you trust God to provide for your house?