“Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court” (Psalm 127:3-5 NIV).
This short psalm (a favorite of mine) contains the way to a wealth of spiritual growth. However, it wasn’t until my children were all raised and we’d been married almost forty years that I realized I hadn’t focused on the most important part.
My husband and I married young, and I was a pregnant teen twice over. Though far from perfect at that untried and untested age, and never having achieved anything near perfection since, we cherished our children and poured our youthful energy into raising them as best we could.
It was a privilege.
In those early years, we had to buck the norm for people our age. But, as far as we were concerned, these precious gifts from God were of far more value than any insignificant activity or experience pertaining to youth that we had “missed out on” or had to “give up.”
We had chosen the best part, and we knew it.
We knew that children were a gift from God, a heritage, and we wanted a large family. The Lord blessed us with six children – a miracle in and of itself when so many cannot have children. Raising a large family is an enormous responsibility. We devoted our lives to the task. The very presence of our children and our love for them equipped us and grew us. Our growth and unity were birthed in the joint challenge of raising them together.
We took every bit of our parenting seriously, so much so that we thought certain responsibilities belonged to us when that was not the case. Our fallback of trying to achieve this in our own strength revealed our self reliance and our pride.
In reality, our children belong to God. We focused on the second half of Psalm 127 – the blessing of many children – and assumed the first part was a given, not really understanding the implications or what this revealed about our heart condition.
However, the key to the entirety lies in the opening promises:
“Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves” (Psalm 127:1-2 NIV).
Only God can control the outcome. We couldn’t keep them safe from all harm or injury. No matter how well or how often we presented the gospel, we couldn’t guarantee their salvation. Through our tireless efforts and high standards, we couldn’t secure them a life with no hardship.
Both the granting of the children and the outcome are in God’s hands.
What if we had focused on the first part of the passage? What if instead of fearfully trying to protect them from every possible eventuality, we had realized that they belong to the Lord first and foremost?
What if we had stressed out less about trying to be perfect parents and had instead humbly admitted our myriad weaknesses and failings, praying for God’s wisdom and begging for his help?
What if sooner we had understood that God loved them and so would shape their lives through both good and hard circumstances, and would work it all together for their good?
What if instead of worrying in the night and overreacting over small concerns, we prayed, trusted God, and rolled over to enjoy peaceful sleep?
The Lord builds the house. He watches over the city.
We do our part. But his part is more crucial.What if instead of worrying in the night and overreacting over small concerns, we prayed, trusted God, and rolled over to enjoy peaceful sleep? The Lord builds the house. He watches over the city. We do our part. But his part is more crucial. Click To Tweet
Still today – as the mother of adult children – this reality sinks in ever more deeply. I realize that we often do the right thing and then assume all will turn out well because we’re responsible people. We assume our wise decisions will guarantee a good result, functioning as practical atheists by not praying for God’s guardianship and protection.
We save the money, for instance, knowing it will be there when we need it, forgetting to pray for its safekeeping once we’ve done our part. But then, calamity and hardship come along and wipe it out, taking it away from our intended usage.
So it is with all of life. The Lord must provide, build, watch, superintend, and protect the result. Always. Even now. He must orchestrate it. Nothing is guaranteed. It never is. Only our future with him in eternity is truly secure.
This is a crucial lesson: To do our level best and to pray for the Lord’s watchful care over and above what we, in our frail humanity, are capable of doing.
Only he can do it. He is the Builder. He is the Watchman.
Trust him. Pray more. Worry less.This is a crucial lesson: To do our level best and to pray for the Lord's watchful care over and above what we, in our frail humanity, are capable of doing. Only he can do it. He is the Builder. He is the Watchman. Pray more. Worry less. Click To Tweet