I remember when my oldest son, Micah, was about 2 years old. I walked into a room that he had just finished trashing and said, in alarm, “Micah!” He looked up at me with his big brown eyes and in all innocence said, “Wha’ Micah do?” That was 33 years ago. When he was 19, Micah called me from college to seek my counsel about something. Now he was asking, “What should Micah do?” He was willing to do that from 725 miles away because he developed the habit as a child. He would come to talk to me and his Mom about any problem he was facing. When he was young, Micah went through a period where he would come and confess anything he had done wrong or even thought of doing wrong. I can remember many nights as I was just about to drift off into a peaceful slumber when I would hear that familiar voice at the bedroom door saying, “Mom? Dad? Can I talk to you about something?” Most of the time, what Micah really needed was to know that we loved him, and that we believed he was doing well. Sometimes he needed correction or encouragement to change something in his life. He always wanted and needed me to pray for him, and to ask the Lord to give my firstborn child His peace. In almost every case, he was willing to listen to what his Mom and Dad had to say, because he had learned to love and respect us as his authorities. He had learned the hard way (as most of us have to) that the safest place to be is under the protection that is afforded a child who submits gladly to his parents.
The culmination of these ‘visits in the night’ came when Micah popped his head in one night to say, “Dad, I’m not sure sometimes whether I need to come to you with a question or not, or if I just need to pray about it and see what the Lord tells me….But I guess I do know, actually. Because if I take it to the Lord but it keeps bugging me and I can’t get it out of my mind, then I know I am supposed to come to you as well.” I knew then that he was ready to leave home and face the challenges of life outside the “greenhouse” of family. He was ready to be transplanted in a world that is hostile to most of what he believes and stands for; he was ready to make a difference in the culture. I knew that was true because I had seen Micah transfer his dependence from his earthly father to his heavenly Father.
He had found in Jesus a wonderful counselor who is never too busy, always willing to listen, and always has the right answer. He had learned how to search the Scriptures to find counsel, and he had learned how to seek the Lord through prayer and wait until he gets an answer. He had developed a relationship with Jesus Christ that was all his own, and this young ‘arrow’ was ready to be released.
There is nothing like the protection that our family can provide as we raise little ones to maturity in the ‘greenhouse’ of home life. It is a safe place that nurtures these children like olive plants (Psalm 128:3) as they grow up. But the home is like a huddle for a football team. The huddle is a safe place; nobody ever gets tackled in the huddle. No one is ever injured in the huddle. Neither does any team ever score in the huddle! The purpose of a football huddle is that the players receive instructions so they can go out and make plays that will move the ball forward and score touchdowns and win the game. So it is with our families. God has given us these tender plants to raise and nurture, and the home should be a safe place. But the end result is that the children leave the home, fully equipped and prepared to make a difference in the culture for the Kingdom. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. (Psalm 127:4) Arrows in the quiver may look nice but they don’t do anything. Arrows are made to be released toward a target so that the army can advance. May God give us wisdom and courage as parents to train up sons and daughters who will be ready to hit the target for which they were created.