Sunday, June 9, 2013

Quiver full of arrows


"Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.  As arrows are in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.   Happy, blessed, and fortunate is the man whose quiver is filled with them!    They will not be put to shame when they speak with their adversaries [in gatherings] at the [city’s] gate."  Psalm 127:3-5

I want to preface what I'm going to say with I know many people can't have children and grieve over that fact.  And I haven't walked in your shoes.  I can't imagine how heartbreaking it is.  Can I encourage you to fill your quiver with other people's children?  I have a brother and sister-in-law who have invested in nieces and nephews and children of their friends to the point that these kids are as loyal to them as their own parents!  I have "children" I didn't give birth to.  Believe me...I know it's not exactly the same.  But I'd ask you to get out of the box with God and see that there are children waiting for extra investment.  As a mom to four kids, I consistently prayed that God would send other godly adults to invest in my kids.  And a big thanks to those who did!

Having said that, what a gift children are!!  I always cringe when I hear people demeaningly ask an expectant parent if they "know what causes that?"  And I'm so happy to see many families having more than the 1.5 children which was encouraged 25 years ago.  God bless the Duggar family and what they've done to encourage couples to have more children.  How big is your quiver?  Probably not 19 kids and counting--but it may be more than you think. It's certainly something in which we all need to come in agreement with God.  But the quiver isn't the object of this passage...it's the arrows.

Years ago, I heard Pastor James Ryle teach about shaping arrows.  It was extraordinary.  He talked about the hard work of creating a "true" arrow.  It takes lots of whittling, soaking, shaping and shooting to make sure the arrow can actually hit the target.  And then it may take some more of the same if it doesn't. ( I wish it was on Youtube, because it's something I wish everyone could hear!)  There's certainly lots that goes into the 18 years of training a child before they leave home.  And it can be exhausting and frustrating for everyone involved.

One thing God taught me early was to point those arrows to the target of God's will.  Not to the target of popularity.  Not to the target of being a great sports player.  Not to the target of being a beauty queen.  Not to the target of pleasing me.  But to the target of God's will for their lives.  And in order to do that, you have to know the "bend" of that arrow.  What did God create it for?  Praise?  Accounting?  Teaching?  Auto Mechanics? To know the bend of the arrow, you have to spend time getting to know that child.  Know their strengths and help make them stronger.  Know their weaknesses and help whittle that down in their lives.

But oh, the joy, when that arrow hits the target!  It may not come when they turn 18.  But as God so wisely pointed out to me when I was panicking when my first two kids left home at the same time, "When did you grow the most?  (Age 35)  Then trust Me to take over now.  Your job is done and I'm their Father who will finish the training and shaping."  But when you see those arrows standing up to their enemies, it is the most satisfying thing you can imagine.  I stand in awe when I watch.  It's not because I was such a great molder of arrows...it's seeing what God has done.  It's knowing that even my fallible attempts at shaping an arrow becomes mighty in God's hands.

For those of you shaping your little arrows right now, I want to encourage you to keep whittling, keep stripping, keep soaking, keep shaping.  It's so worth it.  It may be exhausting, but ask God to send others alongside you to invest in the work.  And make sure you point those arrows at the right target--the target of God's will.

And when you release those arrows, expect them to go further than you ever have.  They will.

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