Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth.
Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.
Whenever I have the fun of spending time with my extended family, I tend to wish that my own family were just a little bigger. My grandparents, John and Anne had 7 children (my mom is their baby). Each of these children married and had children of their own - 16 in total. Many of these have married and had children, giving my grandparents around 32 great-grandchildren! (I hope that number is close to being right...)
Our family is spread far and wide across Canada and the US, so getting everyone together is very rare. I think the last time was two weeks after my son Ethan was born (who is now 8). Sad, but real life. So when my very organized and motivated cousin offered to arrange an afternoon for the family to get together, we were happy to be part of it. Of course, no one out province could come, and not everyone in province either, but being together - eating, visiting and playing games - was still fun and meaningful!
My grandparents sat near the entrance to the church we gathered in and watched their offspring bound in with much enthusiasm. I wondered what that felt like. As they held the latest addition the family (my sweet niece, Grace), I wondered if they remembered what it was like to hold their first baby, and then their first grandchild just nine years after their youngest was born! I wondered if they looked around that noisy room and asked themselves where the time had gone - how this all had come to pass.
My grandparents came to know Christ after they had begun their family, but once they made that commitment, they became devoted followers, teaching their children the ways of the Lord. Each of their children married believers who raised their families to know about Jesus. Seven families, covered in prayer, not without their hardships, not without their trials and mistakes. Many families going on for the Lord have come out those seven. Many families active in their local churches, doing what they can to spread the kingdom of God, doing what they can to raise their own families to know and love Jesus. Generations of Christ followers already, blessing poured out on John and Anne Thomas and their choice to give their lives to God. And the double blessing of seeing it in this life.
It seems so perfect then, to end the weekend with the first night of our Young Families small groups. We started a new DVD series, and the whole emphasis of this group is to support and encourage one another to raise families that look like what my grandparents have, Lord willing. Not that we will be perfect, or get it all right. Not that there are any guarantees. Just to have a heart devoted to the Lord first above all and to make it really obvious to the lives in our charge.
Love the LORD Your God1 These are the commands, decrees and laws the LORD your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, 2 so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the LORD your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life.
and just so you know - getting the kids to bed Sunday evening after a weekend like that reinforces to me that our quiver is indeed full....and I am thankful.