Nearly every time I'm out of the home without my husband, someone usually makes the comment that I have my hands full. My comment is usually (as it was today), "Better full than idle!"
Personally, I don't think I have my hands full. I have three children who are well behaved. Maybe if they were always bouncing off the walls and taking them anywhere was like trying to perform in a three ring circus I would agree that I had my hands full, but I don't.... at least not in the aspect that most people are referring to.
I have friends who have way more than three children. While today's society views three children as quite a bundle, in comparison to those in our church and many of my blogger friends, we have a small family. I have been so privileged to be able to talk to women whom God has blessed with such wisdom and grace in their parenting journey, which is a very serious thing, lest we forget.
The bible is full of parenting stories. We read about great men who failed to be great biblical parents- like Eli in I Samuel 4. (Read this article here.) When we realize what a huge role we have as parents, we realize that yes, we have a full plate of duties. Our hands are FULL in this aspect.
I don't think most parents have a grasp on biblical parenting. Parenting is not just about raising children to be "good people" or surviving for eighteen years until they "hopefully get out" (as one parent put it). As parents, our main goal should be to raise children who love and serve God, who are about His Will for their lives, and who are committed to following Him. Are we too focused on the "smaller goals" like getting them through school or making them "good people" that we miss the bigger picture?
I think the devil's biggest tool is to get us focused on these tasks that, yes, seem daunting, so we miss God's command to "train children up in the way of the Lord". The devil wants us to be caught up in the activities of school and sports, to be running here and there trying to give our children a "well-rounded childhood". Satan desires to keep us busy- because if he can keep us busy, he can keep us from teaching our children about walking with God.
It is not enough to just read the bible to our children or take them to church regularly (although both of those are important). We must be willing to walk with them, talk with them, gain their trust, gain their hearts. We must show them how to live before Christ, and we must uphold the bible more than a book of suggestion. We must be willing to put away those things that would be a stumbling block to our children, which would take us away from them or take them away from us. We must be willing to shelter them enough to protect their young hearts and minds (which are like sponges and soak up so much and have a hard time filtering what is good and evil, right and wrong). We must be willing to take the criticism that will come from people who think we are too protective, those who think we should give out children "a well-rounded worldview" instead of a biblical worldview.
We must hold up the structure of family- the father being the leader, the mother being his helpmeet, and the children being obedient. Of course, you cannot "demand" obedience from your children and expect them to follow through when you are not around if you have not gained their hearts, their trust, and helped them understand God's Word and direction.
I feel God is constantly revealing things to my husband and I about the inner workings of a family- what works, what doesn't work, what is biblical, and what has been masquerading around as "Christian" but isn't.
We are so blessed to meet with those who walk the walk, who encourage family structure and biblical authority, who lead their children with God's word and teach them constantly. I have some great examples set before me.
I am pretty picky about what I read, and even more picky about what books I recommend... but I have come across some really great books that align with the Scripture (are based on the bible) and clarify so much, pointing out things I often overlooked. I hope you will take the time to look into these books:
Family Man, Family Leader (For Husbands/Fathers)
Passionate Housewives Desperate for God (For Wives/Mothers)
Family Driven Faith (For everyone)
And, because it's REALLY good .....
The Screwtape Letters (by C.S. Lewis)... also for everyone. :)
For those of you who might read this and think, "Oh man, I'm never having children." I think, for many of us, children have been God's greatest teaching tool to us. Our children have forced us to look deeper into the Word of God for guidance and clarity. They have shown us what we often look like in the eyes of God, and have revealed our own sinful nature.
I often feel like those who decide not to have children (through natural means, adoption, etc) miss out on one of God's greatest experiences and trials for molding biblical character. I realize that God does not plan for all to marry or have children, but I think many of us refuse God's direction and blessing out of our own selfishness for money, time, and effort.
I shudder to think of what I would be without my children. A good friend and pastor of ours once said, "God gives us children to take the YOU and out YOU." Children require us to be selfless and to often give more than we receive. We learn so much about God's love through the relationship with our children, and we begin to see how urgent the Gospel is, and how serious it is.
There's an old saying, "Don't take life to seriously, you'll never get out alive anyway."
This is a ridiculous saying. DO take life seriously because you WILL die someday and YOU WILL have to account for what you did (and didn't do) in your life. And yes, you will even have to account for your part in your children's lives as well. In fact, you will probably have to account for your part (or lack of part) in other's lives outside of your family.
Life is serious. Satan wants us to think its "all fun and games" and that we should "make the most of it" while we can. He wants us to think we can sit back, relax, and let life happen, but the Word of God says differently.
We should all have our hands full with God's Will for our lives.