Empty cornucopias. In my heart and in my house, that which should be full of the fall harvest of God’s goodness and righteousness is sometimes hauntingly empty. Do you ever feel that way? Where is that harvest I am supposed to have? Why doesn’t my family have any of the kind of fruit I am looking for? Why do my children seem so bare?

As I ponder this season, I wonder about the harvest that will come from my children’s lives. I always wonder what they are going to grow up and be or do. I wonder if they are going to follow the Lord or their own desires. I wonder if they will be great and give glory to God and just what kind of fruit they will bear. And on those extra hard days, I even wonder if they will just remain heathens forever or follow me to the very gates of hell! Depressing thoughts all. But by the end of this article, I trust I’ll show you something optimistic and hopefully even beautiful.

In each of our lives, we may go through seasons that seem like the death of winter or sometimes the heat of summer or the wonder of fall or even the newness of spring. Seasons change in our lives, the weather changes in our circumstances, and what grows in each season is different too—not only for us, but for our children as well.

When the children are young, it can look like there is little or no fruit on those little vines, and then—suddenly—we see very tiny sprouts. When they get a bit older, we begin to see character traits that need working in or sin natures that need working out as our children grow like weeds. As they enter their teens, we begin to see buds of fruit and sometimes observe turbulent winds and rain, and then as they mature into adults, we will hopefully see strong stems and fruits that are becoming ripe for the picking, fruit that can be shared.

Let’s go through these stages together as I share where I have lacked and what I have learned, and maybe we can see a pattern of things we need to be doing (or not doing) to ensure a good harvest in our children’s lives and in our own hearts.

Where’s the Fruit: In the Very Young

When our children are very young, we wonder when it is that we will get to reap what we’ve sown into them day in and day out. When will we get to see that beautiful bounty, or will there even be any? Will it be full and beautiful, or will they end up like the fig tree that Jesus cursed when it held nothing of value to Him? We so desire that our children will eventually produce fruit, but what we often don’t realize is that today’s seeds hold the key to the fruit they will produce tomorrow and even years from tomorrow. But they will produce absolutely nothing if we do not prepare the soil and continue to sow seeds day in and day out. Don’t give up! Harvest time will come!

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” (Galatians 6:9)

In these early years, I have both overestimated and underestimated that which is required in the caretaking of my little ones’ fertile ground, and lazy weeding has produced a lack of character growth.

Overestimating

Here’s a little sad-but-true story to illustrate what I am talking about. We normally have all of our children with us in service at church, but after baby Jacob was born, I needed to nurse him, so I would take my two little girls (5 and 3) and the baby and we would head to the Sunday School class together. Recently, the teacher was discussing Noah’s ark, and at first I thought, “What child doesn’t know about Noah and that huge boat of his?” But then the teacher began to ask specific questions about how many days it rained and what the rainbow meant, and I was shocked and even embarrassed to realize that my two little girls had no idea what the answers were.

I was shocked because I knew I had taught it to all my older children and they knew all the details very well; I just thought that the younger ones knew all these things too. I overestimated their knowledge. Somehow, with my focus on my older children, my younger ones were falling through the cracks. As our family had grown, I had not maintained the same consuming focus on the Bible with these younger ones. I knew at that moment that I had better change that and change it quickly—not just so that they will know all the neat Bible stories that kids this age love, but so that they will know the God of the Bible and will love Him and love His Word, so that seeds of Scripture would be sown into their hearts. I can’t leave the sowing to someone else.

Underestimating