I want to show you two pictures. The first was taken in the Summer of 2007 when four couples went on a beach trip together. At that time, there was one baby in the group.
The next picture was taken in December 2010. Same four couples, nine more children than the photo taken 3 and a half years earlier.
When someone saw this second picture taken by Amanda on my phone, they remarked, “Did you notice the sign behind them? How appropriate!”
The sign was from a series that our student ministry was going through, and the thought was how fitting it was to have a picture of 10 children labeled as minefields. Humorous? Yes. Accurate? Not on your life.
In that 1st picture, the adults were younger, more refreshed than if we had been in that second picture. We couldn’t be in that second picture cause we were just trying to keep all the children focused on the camera. In 2007, we did have more time on our hands. We could go more places, do things easier, but we were missing 9 precious gifts from the Lord whom might make our lives more busy, but they also make our lives more purposeful.
In the last few years, our friends and us have received such comments as:
- “Don’t you know how this works yet?”
- “3 kids?! You’re through, aren’t you?!”
- “Do we need to get you separate beds?”
- “You must have no life now!”
These comments, while spoken in jest, reveal a cancer in our society in how we view children as a curse instead of a blessing. When we talk about how many children we should have based on how many we can afford, we have missed the point. When we talk about needing some “me” time and don’t want too many kids to disrupt our independence, we have allowed our selfishness to stunt the next generation. When we discuss getting over one hurdle or another before entering into that “stage of children,” we act like they are a project to be completed once the other pursuits have been accomplished.
God makes it clear: children are an absolute gift and should be viewed as a blessing (Ps. 127:3). God says they are like arrows in one’s hand and we are blessed if we have a quiver full of them (Ps. 127:4-5)! God tells his people to be fruitful and multiply (Gen. 9:1). Why is he so desirous of big families? So that we can disciple the next generation of Christians who will follow hard after his heart (Deut. 6:4-6; Josh. 24:25; Eph. 6:1-4)!
Children are not an inconvenience, they are a part of our obedience.
I don’t know what the next picture of these four couples will look like. The Agnews, Langleys, Pendleys, and Wilsons may continue to grow by leaps and bounds. Red and yellow, black and white, till the mini-van is packed tight, we view children as gifts. We might view them with sleep-deprived eyes, but we still look at these faces, understand our responsibility, and count ourselves as blessed to partner with God to disciple this next generation.
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.
6 thoughts on “Be Fruitful and Multiply (And Boy, Did We Ever!)”
Travis- I have truly loved each stage with our kids. Middle school was tough though. But being a Mimi totally overshadows all the joy I felt as a Mom. To see a child you have loved, fought with, prayed over and with, becoming a great parent is a reward that I would never have imagined. Mimi wants a mini van- red, yellow, black and white and packed tight!!! Yippee!!!!!
Oh Travis!!! I love, love, love, love, love, LOVE this post! I can’t wait for James to get home so he can read it, too. It was God’s perfect timing that you wrote this. With the addition of our 5th child, so many people have asked those same questions of us- mostly the “aren’t you done?” one. And, though most are concerned about my health (I’ve had severe preeclampsia with all three pregnancies), there are definitely many that just don’t understand how in the world we could ever want more. What a joy to have brothers and sisters in Christ who believe that God meant what He said when He said that they are a blessing. What an awesome (and sometimes frightening!) responsibility we have to disciple these little ones!
Thank you for this post. Greg, my brother, sent me this link. Al and I have been adjusting to Kadyn who is not even a year yet. We have recently found out that we are expecting yet another child which was a total surprise. This will bring our grand total to 4 children!! And all the while since I found out I have been worrying over money, room, what others will say, and time and have been, although I am ashamed to say, less than thrilled. Reading this today was so on time for me and what I needed today. I realize that God has a plan even when I don’t. God is definently working on me today! Thank you for helping me put things in prespective.
Great post! Thanks!
Someone asked a friend at church if we had an addiction!
That was when we only had 6!
Had a great question from a reader wondering if they were in the wrong for a “small” number of children in their home. My response:
Totally understand your point. And I could see how comments on the other side make you feel very uncomfortable.
I feel like people feel so comfortable with asking questions like “are you guys trying?” Kinda personal, you know? But I see people do this (especially mothers) with number of children, breastfeeding, spanking, etc. A family’s decision is a family’s decision.
I think in all of our cases, we are accountable to God. Someone asked me after the blog post, “Are you guys going to be the Duggar’s?” No, we are not, but we don’t know where we will stop. We don’t know if it is foster, adopt, birth, not sure. So where is the line?
I wish there was a set limit that God said was wise for each family. 3.5 children. 5. 2. Whatever. But he doesn’t, so that means that we must address this to God. If you guys did diligence on your knees, feel secure in your decision about how many is in your home, discipling who is in your home, than you only have to answer to God and no one else.
I know people who are mightily used by God who have chosen not to have children. Some of their critics say they are being unbiblical, some say that they are sacrificing for the Kingdom. Once again, I can’t make a judgment call on it. It’s between a family and God.
The main point of this post is to make sure we take such a serious decision before God and not make it on selfish motives.
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