- Saturday, September 28, 2002
"Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth." Psalm 127:4
I find it interesting that the Scripture describes children as "arrows" because arrows are meant to be released. As we raise our children, Barbara and I know we are responsible to prepare them to live independently.
All of our efforts as parents are made with the knowledge that, eventually, these "arrows" will be flying on their own. We make a conscious effort to give them skills in living and in making godly choices.
There's an important characteristic of an arrow: it is an offensive weapon. God wants every Christian to make an impact in our world for Christ, and He wants us parents to emphasize this vision as we raise our children.
When I drive our kids to school, I pray for them: "Lord, I pray that they will never forget that they are Your representatives at school today. I pray that they will be lights in the midst of the darkness."
Knowing we will release our kids, however, doesn't make it any easier when the time actually comes. The "twang" of our bowstring was first heard in August of 1993 when we took our oldest child, Ashley, to college. I remember the scene well: Barbara, Ashley and I stood in the dorm parking lot, huddled-up, arms entwined, sobbing. I was crying so hard that I couldn't pray; my own daughter had to pray for herself!
As we drove away from the dorm, my "little girl" stood on the sidewalk, waving good-bye. I turned to Barbara and said, "One down and five to go! Can you believe that in a year we've got to do this again with Benjamin?"
I paused for a moment. The tears were drying on my face, but the pain of the loss was fresh. "This hurts too much," I said. "I'm not doing it next year. I'm going to rent a dad for a day to do it for me!"
During the next year, Barbara and I notched the bowstring with another arrow, Benjamin, and prepared for our second release. We spent a lot of time talking to him about the temptations he would encounter at the university. Over breakfast Bible studies we discussed drinking, peer pressure, dating, girls and sex.
Some of these talks began when Benjamin was in fifth and sixth grade. Any good archer will tell you that you don't prepare for hunting season by practicing for a couple of weeks right before it begins.
In August, just days before Benjamin was to leave for college, I set up a surprise breakfast for him. We were joined by three godly men whom Benjamin respected. It was powerful! They encouraged Benjamin to grow in his love for Jesus Christ, to guard his heart and to be faithful to God.
Finally the day came. Arriving on campus, we spent most of the afternoon cleaning our son's room so he could move in.
It was nearly dusk when the first poignant moment came. Benjamin and I went outside the student housing for some fresh air and sat on the tailgate of a truck parked near the door. There we watched a steady stream of young men pass by, most of them drinking.
At this point I was becoming fearful for my son. I wanted to protect my arrow and put it back in the quiver, not release it into this "crooked and perverse generation." I turned to Benjamin and looked him in the eye. "Son, I've got to tell you that watching all these young men get wasted on booze really causes me to question the wisdom of sending you into the midst of all this."
There was only a brief silence and then he returned my gaze. "Dad, this is my mission field," he replied. "It's going to be tough, but if it were easy these guys wouldn't need Jesus Christ. This is what you and Mom have trained me for. God has led me here and He will protect me."
There I sat, rebuked by my 18-year-old son. He was a young man of faith.
Excerpted from Moments Together for Couples by Dennis and Barbara Rainey. Used with permission. Copyright 1995 by Dennis and Barbara Rainey. All rights reserved.
About the author: Dennis Rainey is the executive director of FamilyLife, an organization founded in 1976 with the goal of effectively developing godly families, one home at a time. Parents of six children, Dennis and his wife, Barbara, have written numerous books, including best-sellers Moments Together for Couples and The Questions Book for Marriage Intimacy.
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