Raising Arrows

IMG_8123Yesterday was  Independence Day and our family had a great day. We celebrated with friends and laughed a lot! When it finally got dark, our neighbor texted that they were setting up fireworks. We all hurried out and sat in our driveway to enjoy the show. All the kids were with us and I wasn’t really paying attention to the costume our youngest had put on. She does this often and I think it is great! In a few short years, running outside in a princess dress will be outgrown. She looked beautiful and was excited to see the fireworks. We enjoyed the sights and headed back inside. It wasn’t until early this morning that I woke up in a panic. The costume she had on was made from cheap, highly flammable fabric. The wind kept kicking up and we were pretty close to the sparks. At one point, she was very close to lit roman candles. What could have happened is what woke me up and I was so thankful nothing had.

This moment of panic got me thinking. Are we sending our children out into the world unprotected and unequipped to face all that fires at them? Are we giving them a foundation of truth to build on? Do we place more importance on the things fire can destroy or eternal treasures? Are we buying into the cheap, worldly views of parenting or the precious words of God, who actually created our children?

This was a lot to think about during the early morning, but I needed to answer these questions. The years are quickly approaching when we send out our oldest. She talks about different colleges and lots of things she is interested in pursuing. We will start visiting these colleges this coming school year and look forward to what lies ahead. However, I am not under the mindset that our job of parenting is over when our children leave home or turn a certain age. I see my role changing, but not ending. When they leave, not necessarily for college, but truly on their own, I see this like pulling back on the bow and letting the arrow fly.

I recently read out of New Morning Mercies, by Paul David Tripp, a remarkable statement in regards to arrows. He is actually talking about true love. He says, “true here means, “straight”,  like the kind of arrow a marksman make sure to pull out of his quiver. He wants a completely straight arrow so that when it leaves the bow, it won’t veer off in the wrong direction. True here means consistent, reliable, and not apt to go in some unloving direction.” It is the time that these arrows are in the “quiver” of our home that is so important to me. It is my conviction that this is not a time to be taken lightly.

So, I need to add to my original questions. In order to send the straight arrows out, how do we equip them to not veer off in the wrong direction? First, we need to know that God is in control. “For everything was created by him, in heaven on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things and by him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:16-17). This is the foundation I have built my life on. This is what we are teaching to our children. It is the truth, the only truth. The world will send fires of lies, pretty and fleeting as 4th of July fireworks, that will say the contrary, but that is satan’s oldest trick. Glance back at Genesis 3:1. “He said to the woman, ‘Did God really say,…”. He’s been trying to deceive us ever since. Trying to cause doubt in what God has said in his Word. The way they can know the truth for themselves is to be taught, guided, watch it lived out and encouraged to spend time in the Bible themselves. We take them to church, where truth is affirmed.

The other important role of arrow raising is prayer.  “… we haven’t stopped praying for you. We are asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, so that you may have great endurance and patience, joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the saints’ inheritance in the light. He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son he loves. In him, we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:9-14).  This is what I pray for my children now and the years to come.

Also, I do not desire for any of my children to ever think that it all depends on them. Do their choices have consequences? Yes. However, if they are being filled from the time they are born with “the knowledge of God”,  they know where their strength comes from to make sound decisions. My kids are well aware of the “domain of darkness” and the choice to accept this rescue offered. Many of them have and are now called redeemed. This is what makes an eternal difference.

Perhaps you were not raised like this and when you flew out of the bow, you were far from hitting any kind of good mark. And if you have been off target ever since and now have kids, what do you do now? Well, if you are still breathing and I am assuming you are, the same prayer I am praying for my kids, I pray for you. Recognize your need of rescue and being taken from darkness to light. The first verse I ever memorized growing up was, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16). Respond to this love. Then, place yourself back in the quiver of our Heavenly Father and let him do a work that only he can do. And when he places you in the bow and sends you soaring, I have a feeling that you will hit the mark.

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