Summary: Part of raising our children is learning to let them go.
“Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. 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.” (Psalm 127:3-5)
James Craig is a bow hunter. He had to work this morning, but he has been kind enough to share with me a few of his arrows. It’s easy to see that they can be quite different from one another. Some have plastic vanes, others have actual feathers. They can have different tips, they can be different lengths. Some are designed for target competition, others are designed for hunting. Some for hunting fish, some for birds, some for large game.
But arrows are also very similar -- each has been carefully fashioned and crafted, molded and balanced. They’re all intended for flight. They’re all intended for a target. They’re all intended for maximum impact on that target.
It’s Father’s Day, and I am reminded today that I am blessed to be the father of three children -- Charity, Amber and Joshua. They’re all very different from one another. They have different looks, different interests, different personalities. But they’re also very similar because each of them was fashioned and crafted by the Lord God. And each of them is being molded, balanced, and readied for flight in our home.
You see, arrows are designed to fly. James uses his arrows for target practice, for hunting. His arrows aren’t for show. They were never intended to stay in a quiver. The quiver is just a vehicle that carries them until they are ready for release. You might say that arrows were made to be released. They were made to fly. They were made to pierce a target.
So it is with my children. David said, “Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.” They were never intended to stay within the four walls of our home. Our home is a merely a means to prepare them and mold them and straighten and balance them. But the time is coming -- coming very soon, in fact -- when they will be released. They were made to fly. They were made to pierce a target.
Our children were designed by their Creator to make an impact on the world. To live for a reason. To set their minds toward a goal. To accomplish a purpose. To count for something in God’s great scheme of things. God once said of Abraham, “For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice…” (Genesis 18:19).
Now ultimately; of course, our children are responsible as individuals before their heavenly Father for the flight they take and the mark they make. But I realize that, as a father, as a warrior, I’m also responsible to release those precious arrows to the best of my ability.
Carol Kuykendall has written: “Letting go is a God-given responsibility as important as love in the parent-child relationship. Without it, without release, children cannot grow. With it, they gain the confidence and independence to seek and reach their potential in life. ’Give your children roots and wings,’ the old saying goes. Love them and protect them, nurture them with a strong sense of God and family and then -- let them go.”
Releasing our children is an important part of being a parent, but it’s not an easy thing to do.
Why is it so hard to let go? Why is it so difficult to pull back on the bow and just let it fly? Because it contradicts everything we are as parents! We fear our loss of influence. We don’t want to give up our parental control. We have spent so many years taking care of these children who are so dear to us, those who have hatched in our own little nest. After all, from the day they were born, we have been responsible for their provision and protection. We’ve shielded them. We’ve prayed for them. We’ve agonized over them. We’ve fought for them. And, let’s face it, this business of "letting go” diminishes our role. And that doesn’t feel good.
But we must let go! In John 3:30, there’s a turning point in his ministry where John the Baptist said of Jesus Christ, “He must increase, I must decrease.” That describes well the role of a parent with our own children. They must increase; but we must decrease. Their personal responsibility to the Lord must increase; their personal responsibility to Mom and Dad must decrease.