Last Thursday evening, my wife and I welcomed a new child into our family. Here are a few thoughts I’ve had over the past week as I watched my daughter’s birth, bonding with her mother, and her enthusiastic reception by the other children…
Disclaimer: I realize that there is a negative side and more to this conversation than what is here, but during this week, my heart and mind have been focused primarily on the positives.
Although there are definitely some who try, I find it hard to believe that anyone who gives any amount of serious intellectual thought can truly say that the creation and birth of another life is anything short of a miracle. Certainly we can read and understand the scientific descriptions of what is going on, but there is just so much taking place in a relatively short amount of time with precise detail that, in my opinion, the reproductive design speaks for itself.
Recently a pastor friend of mine posted a blog about blessings from God. (It can be read here.) His overall point is that the blessing of God originates and is most clearly expressed in the grace of God, specifically in the gospel of Jesus. As a parent . . . as a father, I know of no more tangible expression of the grace of God in my life than the birth of my children. Yes, you read that correctly: I believe my children, each one and all of them, to be a product of the grace of God.
Now, I’m not totally naive. I’ve been a parent long enough to know that parenting comes with heartbreak. Sometimes my children simply do not do what I wish or what I think is best, but compliance and obedience are not the key to blessing. Grace is. So when the psalmist says in the 127th Psalm that children are a gift from God, there is a truth here that deserves meditation: gift from God = blessing = grace. My children bring me great joy. Not always happiness, mind you, but great joy. I have done nothing to earn this joy; it is manifestation of God’s grace in my heart. I am amazed when I sit back and observe my kids, when I hear them talk, when I think about how different they all are, yet possess so many similarities. I see 5 little ones created uniquely in the image of God, wonderfully made into His likeness (Psalm 139). I recognize the blessing of God in my life through these little ones.
On the other hand, when my children are being difficult, it is not necessarily related to an epic parental failure. (Note: It is possible, perhaps likely, that I have failed my kids in some way, but this is not always a cause/effect relationship.) A final thought: Good (well-behaved, obedient) children are no more the result of my efforts than bad (disobedient, obstinate) children are the result of my lack of parental expertise. But regardless of good behavior or not-so-good behavior or even downright disobedience, the blessing of God remains.
So I have asked the question (perhaps you have, too): why did God bless me with the children that I have? I can only respond: Grace. Since a common definition of grace is God’s unmerited or unearned favor, I believe children fall into this category. When I look at each of my kids, I am forced to come face-to-face with the fact that, for good or otherwise, I have done nothing nor could have done anything to deserve these blessings. The fact of the matter is that God is the author of life. He creates life according to His will. He designed these children to be under the care of me and my wife at this point in history.
For me and my wife, this is a weighty matter because having this view of children defines our approach to parenting. Believing/Realizing/Knowing that our children are gifts from God, given in His grace, enables us to parent under His grace, as well. We can rely on His grace to sustain our strength, provide our wisdom, and guide our instruction as we seek to train our children to love God with all of their heart, soul, mind, and strength.
One final note: I don’t want to paint a picture that I think we are perfect parents. We aren’t. Far from it. Relying on God’s grace doesn’t equal not messing up and making mistakes. It simply humbles us with a peace of mind that God can use us in spite of our failures . . . because that is grace.
New pics added: 10/19/13, 10:15am
with Papa Joe (the 5 year old tries to photo bomb all pics)
Mimi & Emalyn
Memaw & Emalyn
Even Kenzi is enthralled by her
Ready to go home! Praise the Lord; both mom and baby are healthy and doing great!!
The whole gang
My wife has a tendency to amaze Labor & Delivery staff with her deliveries. She’s quite amazing!
Emalyn Faith was born at 9:44pm weighing in a 6lb 4oz and 19 3/4″ long.
Many of you know that we decided not to find out the sex of this baby. The two names we’ve been going with are Emalyn and Austin. So what’ll it be? What do you think?
If the Lord wills, we’ll know in a few hours…