Monday, May 16, 2011

entrusting our family 'talents' to God

I wrote about the topic of birth control back in November, simply to share what issues we had been facing as a couple over the past several years, and the conclusions we had come to (and the questions that still remained).
I never dreamed that I would get the responses I did, even months after I posted it. I can only give credit to God for the aftermath of that blog post, because I honestly assumed I was writing that for myself and it would fade into internet oblivion without a drop of influence on anyone's lives. However, quite the contrary has been taking place! God is moving the hearts of married couples as they begin to discuss and pray about what the Lord might have for them regarding birth control, sex, children, and surrendering that area to Him completely. I commend those couples for taking that leap of faith, as scary as it may be... because the Lord knows us best, and will never give us more than we can handle.

I am reminded of this passage...

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil.
This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.

-Proverbs 3:3-8

First, a quick recap on where we left off in the last post: After asking some questions to ourselves about how God sees conception, and what our culture has been telling us about birth control... we were left with one resounding thought: the God of the Bible is FOR LIFE. Now, this blog post is not a debate on abortion, pro-life, etc. But simply digging into some issues that have been left unquestioned for too long.

At the end of the post, I left you with a question we were still struggling with:

How much of this do we leave up to God and have faith that He will care for us and our future children, and how much of this is our responsibility to take certain precautions for health reasons and to allow time for healing in my body to prepare for the next pregnancy?

Although the answer is not perfect, after seeking advice and prayer, we came to the following conclusions:
1. Our hearts must be in the right place. Our decision to prevent a pregnancy should be with legitimate reasons, not merely an excuse, and not done out of fear.
2. Although we should always consider His perfect providence in our lives (if God wants us pregnant, He can certainly make that happen despite our efforts to prevent), He gives us freedom and wisdom to make personal choices, within the context of the Bible
3. Wisdom seemed to clearly say that regaining health needs to be priority; both for myself, and for giving the next pregnancy the best chance at full-term success.

So, all that to say, we are back to using the calendar charting method and condoms for the time being. We are not trying to prevent children, we are simply waiting things out until the risks diminish.

Through this, I'm beginning to understand why the topic of sex is so crucial in marriage. When I was first married, I couldn't fathom why couples let sex become a point of argument and debate, and even sometimes a reason to divorce. I mean, hello! Sex in marriage is awesome! What could we possibly disagree about? But as issues such as birth control, fertility, and other complicated matters arise, I can see how it could cause a great divide and stress in a relationship.

I wish there were perfect answers to this. I wish there was a passage in the Bible about the Ten Commandments to Sex and Baby-Making that would ensure success and provide the 'perfect' family size and timing without fail. But the truth is we live in a very broken world, and even our own minds and bodies betray us at times.
We live in a world where people who should have babies prevent or even murder them.... and people who should NOT even be having sex let alone making babies are popping them out in droves... and people who want desperately to have babies sometimes can't or have great difficulty in doing so.

Life isn't fair, and there is no three-step program to success. However, the Lord is gracious and loving, and somehow always makes a way to redemption... either by changing circumstances, or changing our hearts. He is constantly working and moving in our lives in many unseen and miraculous ways... God is still very and completely good.

Let me say that again:

God is still very and completely good.

So, I have another question... why is it that often children are viewed as a hindrance or inconvenience in our culture? What are we so afraid of? It's understandable to fear the unknown. I was terrified of getting pregnant because I had never experienced pregnancy or childbirth before. Even though I feared all those things, I still wanted the end result: having a child and being a mother. So, we take a leap of faith with all the variables and uncertainties in the package.
But children should not be seen as negative distractions, but
positive ones. A wonderful interruption in our lives. True, we will be inconvenienced because of them... all the time! But not without rewards and benefits.
Parenthood will not come without challenges or struggles. Being a parent will completely wreck you and rebuild you daily. Having a child is an automatic mirror and spotlight into all the flaws in our own lives. God uses children to mold us and settle us and refine us--in everyday issues and in monumental occasions both beautiful and sorrowful.

In His great mercy, He shows us that children are for us to enjoy just as much as they are for His ultimate glory:

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.

Blessed are all who fear the LORD, who walk in obedience to him.
You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours.
Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table.
Yes, this will be the blessing for the man who fears the LORD.

-Psalm 127:3-5; 128:1-4

How intriguing that the Lord desires us to obey him... and one of His rewards for our obedience is having children! The more, the merrier, God seems to say.
But ultimately, even above and beyond all those things, God desires Christ-centered families to raise up God-fearing and Christ-loving children as an inheritance for His Kingdom.

I know I am at the beginning of our journey as a family... it is easy for me to say all of this, with only one baby to care for so far (though what a journey even one child has been!). I am aware that adding one, two, or four more kids changes things dramatically, and I won't pretend to understand how difficult parenting a large family can be.
But in my observations, larger families just plain seem happier and more loving. Every family has their dysfunctions and problems, but I think God knew what He was doing when He encouraged being fruitful and multiplying.

Families thrive in environments that require sacrificing and sharing for the good of the family unit.

Every family is different, and we are not all called to have a Duggar-sized family, or even a family of four or five. I am certainly not trying to break any world records, here, either! Also, not all couples are called to have their own children, or are called to adopt/foster/mentor other children instead. Not one is greater or less of a calling than the other.

The point is, God is all about community and family. It keeps the Body of Christ centered and unified. It reminds us that we need Him even more than we need each other. It helps facilitate the Gospel. It motivates and encourages our hearts and souls.

Families can be a city on a hill, a light of Christ for all to see.

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
-Ephesians 4:15-16

I understand that everyone is in their own unique situation. I will not condemn anyone who has chosen to plan out their families differently than we are choosing to. My purpose of this blog is simply to reinforce what God seems to be saying throughout His Word...
  • That children are to be seen as a blessing and inheritance, not a hindrance.
  • That the family unit is important and essential, whether by blood or through Christ.
  • That we need to trust God in every area of our lives.

These are the things I think about, I talk to God about, I ask myself about often...
Let me end with a few thoughts:

Have we considered that God is calling us, as parents (or future parents) to raise up the next generation of believers? It is so much more than just having a baby, being a parent
, or caring for a child...
God is entrusting us and asking us to be a part of the big picture: Using ALL gifts, talents, and blessings to further His Kingdom. That includes our fertility, parenting skills, mentoring abilities, or simple willingness to be used however He sees fit.

Have we ever considered our children (current and future) to be a part of the 'talents' God has entrusted us with? [See the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25]

Additional articles and books I've found helpful:

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