Why does God give us children? Is it just to fullfil the command to “be fruitful and multiply”? Is procreation the only reason that God has given children? I’m sure you would agree with me that God has greater plans than just the population of the earth. The ways and purposes of God are far beyond anything we could ever comprehend. However, God does have a definite plan and purpose for everything He does. The Bible says that “Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward.” – Psalm 127:3. To have children is indeed a gift from God.
My favorite name to be called is not “pastor” or even Dan. My favorite name is given to me by my children. I love to be called “Daddy” or “Dad”. Or even the occasional “father” (but I know they are up to something when they call me that). My wife, Lori, has given birth to three children. They are getting older now (14, 12, 9) but the names, Dad or Daddy, will never get old. Being a Dad now for almost 15 years has been quite the adventure. I believe that one of the reasons that God has given me children is to teach me much about my relationship with Him. Here are just three of the many ways I have learned about my relationship with God through my children.
1. My children remind me that I am created for God’s glory.
I’ll never forget the moment when each of my children were born. I cried like a baby – all three times. It brought me so much joy. I was excited to “show them off” to family and friends. We took lots of pictures. They belong to me. They are a part of me. They have my flesh and blood flowing within them. They bear my name. This brings me much pleasure. I celebrate their successes and cry with them during their pains.
I am encouraged to know that God loves me even more than I am capable of loving my children. You and I were created by God and we exist for His Glory. We are not a stat or a number on a paper for God. He knows us well and loves us deeply. This joy is possible because of a relationship that we share with God. Our relationship with God is made possible because of Jesus. Through Jesus we have been adopted into His family and have been given the gift of enjoying God. I can know today that God loves me completely as I am today. This love is not because of me, but in spite of me. There is nothing I could do to change his love. He loves me because it brings him glory.
2. My children remind me that I need grace.
My children remind me that God is very patient with me. I admit that I don’t have it altogether. I make the same dumb mistakes over and over again. If I were God I would have given up on me a long time ago. God lavishes his grace upon me each and every day of my life. He is patient, kind, merciful and gracious. This is a helpful reminder when I lose patience with my children. This is hard to remember because even though we preach “grace” we tend to be “pharisees” without knowing it. We love to experience grace from God, but sometimes do not reciprocate that same grace to our children. We need to show our children the same grace thats been lavished upon us.
We need to be as patient with them as God has been patient with us. We need to be as loving towards them as God has been towards us. We need to be as forgiving towards them as God has been towards us. Your children will get in trouble. They will break the rules. They will be disrespectful. They will push the limits. This does not mean you excuse or condone their sinful behavior. Even the discipline from God is never apart from the grace of God. Remember how gracious God has been towards you because of Christ. You need as much grace as your children do.
3. My children remind me that I need to repent.
I became a father when I was 23 years old. To say that I didn’t know much about being a parent is an understatement. As my children have grown up; so have I. Oftentimes much of the discipline in the home is focused on the sins of the children. However, let it be known that Mom and Dad also have many failures as well. Mom and Dad need to confess and repent of their sin along with their children. Yes, sometimes, I have lost my temper, said dumb things, and reacted emotionally. When I see my children repent, it encourages me to repent as well.
It reminds me that I do not need to hide behind a facade. I can allow myself to be vulnerable and transparent because the gospel is true. As I encourage them of the love, acceptance and approval that the gospel provides; it motivates me to lower my defenses. The most powerful moments I have ever had with my children was when I asked for their forgiveness. Children need to see that Daddy & Mommy are sinners in a need of a Savior too. Let us show our children that they are not the only sinners that need the gospel in the home.
Yes, children are a gift from God. For God knows that it teaches parents much about their relationship with Him.