I pulled the glossy birth announcement from its pale blue envelope and instantly smiled. Nestled in a brown wicker basket filled with cozy white fluff was my friend’s newborn son. Psalm 127:4-5 was scrolled overhead in a fanciful font: “Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!”
I cringed a little at this verse. I have often heard it spoken over newborns and expectant women, but recently my pastor changed the way I viewed it. Mid-sermon he recited Psalm 127:4-5 and asked, “Have you ever considered the purpose of an arrow?” Demonstrating with an imaginary bow, he continued, “In the hands of a warrior, an arrow is meant to be drawn back with great strength and then released, launched into the heart of the enemy.” I didn’t hear much else as the Holy Spirit took this simple demonstration and began drastically altering my view of Christian parenting.
As a Christian woman, I have come to know and accept that my faith ushers me on to the front lines of a spiritual battle. I have read scripture that tells me Satan prowls like a lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Pet 5:8). I know he comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). But I also know in Christ, I have the strength to withstand those attacks (Eph 6:12).
Our Call as Mamas
However, as a mama, I struggle to face these truths and their implications for my children. My greatest desire is for them to know Christ intimately as their savior. But my second greatest desire? Their safety. I hope to see them grow up to be happy, healthy, productive members of society. I dream that one day they would have a good job and raise a family of their own. What’s wrong with that, you ask? Well, nothing really. But biblically speaking, I’m not sure physical safety, job security, and 2.5 children are God’s priorities for my kids.
As I look around this fallen world, my first instinct is to wrap my children in bubble wrap, desperately wanting to protect them from pain. But Christ doesn’t offer our children bubble wrap. He offers them his armor. Christ doesn’t want to merely protect our children, he wants to prepare them. And mamas, guess who he’s made drill sergeant?
This is our holy calling as parents: not merely to deliver our babies safely to adulthood, but to spiritually prepare them for the battle they will face when they make their faith their own. We must pray and lead them to Christ, but our job is not done once he is their savior. We should continue to draw the bow back with all of God’s strength in us and prepare to launch them into the heart of the enemy. It begins by drawing them close and teaching them well.
Teach them wisdom
Miles Kington once said, “Knowledge is knowing tomatoes are a fruit, wisdom is not putting them in a fruit salad.” There is a difference between knowing something and knowing how to use it. Similarly, we can train our children for battle by teaching them how to use scripture. This means not only teaching them to read and memorize the Bible but how to apply it. Talk with them about situations that come up. Find answers in the Bible together. Teach them to live out the word of God in whatever situation they are facing.
Teach them not to fear suffering
My husband is a football coach and part of his job is to teach his players how to take a hit. He gives them pads to protect them, he equips them with knowledge of the game, but he knows they are going to get hit. His goal is for them to be ready for it, not afraid of it.
We can take the same approach as we prepare our children for the world. We should do our best to protect them, but we should not be naive. Our children will experience pain in this life (1 Pet 2:20-21). But they don’t have to fear it. We can teach them how pain, which was meant for evil, can be used for good (Gen 50:20). We can teach them to fight back from a place of rest, knowing the true hope of this life (1 Pet 5:10). We can teach them how our experiences with pain help us comfort others who are suffering (2 Cor 1:4). Finally, we can teach them that enduring pain is not about muddling through with a stiff upper lip. It is about being brave enough to be weak and allowing the world to see Christ’s strength within us (2 Cor 12:10).
Teach them what to target
We have the unbelievable privilege of helping our children discover their gifts and passions and the great responsibility of ensuring they understand how to use those gifts to glorify God. In conversations about education and careers, we should discuss how their faith impacts what they do and how they do it. God’s vision for a successful Christian life is discipleship- whether they are reaching CEO’s in a boardroom or the homeless on the street. Let’s teach them to value the people they impact more than the money they earn.
Wise, brave, and sure of their target, we will eventually let our arrows fly. It’s a terrifying step, but we can take heart knowing we do not send them out alone. Scripture promises us that he who is in them is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4). We can trust God with their earthly life because he gave his only son to secure their eternal life. He gave us these arrows and he calls us his warriors. With his help, we can raise our children to be children of God and weapons of war.
This post originally aired on morningbymorning.org