Like it or not, summer’s almost over. In just a few short days, the bus will arrive and sweep my kids up for another school year. As a stay-at-home mom, I have a variety of emotions this time of year and a variety of prayers. Some are for things to go smoothly, for harmonious relationships with teachers, good friends, and that they won’t struggle academically. But even as I’m typing this, I know I’m selling my kids short by praying away anything that will help them grow. Although I won’t pray for hardship for my kids, I do pray that when tough things happen, they will trust God and come through it people more equipped to serve Him.
Last year we went to a parent teacher conference with one of our kids who is kind of a wild card. Unlike our oldest (the pleaser), we never really know what the report will be for the second. We sat down, poised for the worst, and the first thing his teacher said was, “He takes such good care of our students with special needs.” I almost stood up right there and went home. None of the other stuff mattered. I had no doubt he’d be promoted to the next grade. But this insight into his character at school was all this praying Mamma needed to hear. God had answered my prayers for my son.
There’s a passage in Psalm 127 that people tend to quote to people like us with four or more children. It’s a loving way of saying, “Dang! That’s a lot of kids!” It goes like this:
“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. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.”
There were days this summer when the quiver got kind of cramped. Where the kids insisted on being within elbowing distance of one another and spent their time elbowing each other and arguing. In those moments, I heard an echo of that earlier sentiment, “Dang! That’s a lot of kids!”
But the imminent school year reminds me, I’m about to send those arrows into the world. To middle school, third grade, kindergarten, and preschool. They will have the opportunity to reach out to students who are brokenhearted. They could set an example for hard work. They may be a light for others. Maybe they’ll choose to extend grace. Maybe they’ll be encouragers. Maybe they’ll be an advocate for those who are marginalized. These are the things I pray for and none of that stuff is easy, but it is meaningful.
Maybe it’s time to stop seeing the number four as an overwhelming gaggle of kids. I tend to think of it as four meals at a restaurant. Four schedules to coordinate. Four school supply lists to tackle (that’s not small feat). But what if instead I listen to the Psalmist and remember it’s four arrows. Four individuals with unique gifts that I pray will be used to show the world the love of Christ. Seems like a big prayer, but those are the best kind.