I’m writing this on Father’s Day. Anyone who has lost a child will know how difficult are holidays like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. The focus on being a father is obviously a focus on the blessing of children.
Those of us fortunate enough to become fathers understand the privilege of delighting in our kids. But we also know the importance of being a provider, a protector, a mentor and counselor for our children. Our legacy is to help to make our children’s world better than our own. And ultimately we want to leave an inheritance that will bless our children and their growing families with a lasting heritage.
Our Father in Heaven also wants to leave each of us with a lasting heritage. It turns out that of all the things we might think to inherit from the Lord, it’s our children that are the actual inheritance. Ironically, our inheritance from God is precisely the thing that drives us to work towards leaving our own inheritance.
“Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.” (Psalm 127:3-5)
Some father’s are especially blessed to be surrounded by a ‘full quiver’ of loving children. In a day and age when families are having fewer children, our family was bucking the trend. Which leads me to talk about one of the toughest questions I get asked. It only became a tough question after we lost our beloved son, Elijah.
“How many children do you have?”
How do I answer that question now? I am told that the answer will always be the same. I have five children. But it’s the present tense of the question that throws me. Four of them are still with me. We will often leave an empty chair when we gather in public or private, simply to acknowledge that Elijah is still a part of our family. He always will be. He just isn’t with us right now.
I don’t get to spend time with Elijah like I used to. Eventually I will. I like to think that Elijah simply moved to a different state. He’s in a state of beauty and splendor and eternal delight. Of all the states I might choose to move to from Minnesota, that’s the one I can’t wait to call my home. That’s where I want to build my house.
But there’s a catch. “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.” (Psalm 127:1). That’s the key to answering that tough question about how many kids I have. The Lord gave us five children. He is the one building the house. He is the one who filled the quiver and gave us the inheritance. His handiwork is amazing, and His inheritance is everlasting. And joy will no longer be mixed with sorrow.
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