The Sleep Over

“Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward.”

Psalm 127:3



I remember it like it was yesterday, sleepovers at my friends house growing up as a young boy. Weekends were always fun for it was then we could stay up late, so late mind you we got to watch the television until it went off the air in the early hours of the morning and the screen turned to static, but not before the National anthem was played. Our moms baked cookies for us to eat, our dads got down the military sleeping bags they got to keep from their time serving in the war for us to sleep in. Sometimes we set up tents, other times we just crashed out on the floor. Most nights we just played outside until the host family forced us to come inside. I miss those games of “ditch em” we would play in the park. “Ditch em” was just a more dignified term for “hide and seek.” Oh the joy of childhood.

Being a kid was one of the reasons my wife and I enjoyed having children ourselves. It was like watching ourselves through the eyes of our children and hoping they had the same fun experiences we did as kids, minus the hospital visits for stitches and broken bones. Psalm 127 is one of my favorite Psalms regarding family, having kids and now even grandchildren. When I read verses 1-2, I am quickly reminded, “Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, To sit up late, To eat the bread of sorrows; For so He gives His beloved sleep.” In other words, trying to build your life apart from God is simply a waste of time and energy. Apart from God all you end up with is a structure made of wood, concrete and other materials. What you don’t have is a home. Love is what makes a house a home and remember, God is love (1 John 4:8).

Currently our house is in a few rooms stripped to the studs as we remodel our kitchen with the hope of being able to host more gatherings in the future with family and friends. I am reminded daily that this project isn’t so much about putting in new cabinets and counters and appliances as it is creating a space where we can enjoy more people and share God’s love. As our family expands and another generation is growing up quickly right before our eyes we are excited to have a place where we can make new memories with our kids and grandkids, sharing God’s love with them and His faithfulness to us throughout all generations. And because we live on a golf course we have the most awesome hiding places for a game of “ditch em” some day!
   
Psalm 127 goes on to say in verse 3,  “Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward.” No two ways about it, children are a gift from God, little miracles that prove we each were fashioned by God and then hand delivered to us. I could never understand how someone could deny the existence of God after witnessing a baby being born into this world. Having children that are grown with families of their own now reminds me that our children are on loan from God to us for a very short season of time. That’s why we need to enjoy them while we can. Oh, and thank God for grand babies. This weekend as our oldest son and his wife celebrate their ten year anniversary, my wife and I get to have a “sleep over” with two of our grandchildren while they are gone. I look at grandkids like God’s second chance. What I didn’t get to do with my own children I have the chance to do with our grand kids. That’s grace! I can’t wait.

Verse 4 paints a vivid picture for us as to the responsibility of parents raising children when it says, “Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one's youth.” One of the thrills of parenting and grand parenting is pointing our children in the direction they are to go in this life. To help them discover as the Bible teaches, “their natural bend” the purpose of God for them. I like the old saying, “I’d rather go hunting with my son today than to go hunting for my son tomorrow.”

Since our children belong to God, life is lived while our children are formidable and we still have the energy to chase them around to come along side them and point our kids to Jesus and then watching them make their way to Him as we release the arrow from the bow. This is the frightening part of parenting too knowing our own inadequate parenting skills, we still must let go. This is where faith and trust in God come in. Instruct and enjoy, instruct and enjoy is much of the routine of parenting. Sports and parenting have many similarities. You teach your children the fundamentals of a sport then once a week you get out the folding chairs and ice chest and sit on the sideline and cheer them on as they put into practice in a game situation all that they learned the previous week in practice. As parents we have the joy of coaching our kids, instructing and celebrating, but we must learn to do it from the sidelines, leaving the application to our children.

Verse 5 is the sum total of all the effort and heartache of being a mom and dad, as well as being grand parents, happiness. Yes, verse 5 tells us, “Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; They shall not be ashamed, But shall speak with their enemies in the gate.” For some parents one child (arrow) is enough to fill their quiver, while for others no number is enough. I look back today with much happiness and satisfaction as our children are grown and on their own. My wife and I pointed them in the right direction as we at different moments in time released them towards God. We have discovered they all travel at different speeds but our comfort is not in the velocity they go through life but the direction they are moving. Our aim was right! Jesus is the target we have always desired that our children hit. Money, fame, possessions don’t mean a thing without Jesus.

Just like an archer who pulls back on the bow and then releases the arrow, my wife and I now watch in prayer and in faith that each of our children and grand children will hit the mark. Nothing will make us more happy in this life than to witness for ourselves our children enjoying a personal encounter with God made possible by their personal invitation to receive Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord and then to walk with Him each day repeating the same words my wife and I did almost thirty seven years when we declared, “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”    


“A merry heart does good, like medicine”

Proverbs 17:22


I LOVE YOU!

Michael Osthimer

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