Children are a gift from the Lord; the fruit of the womb, a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children born in one's youth. Blessed are they whose quivers are full. They will never be shamed contending with foes at the gate. ~Psalm 127:3-5

Friday, June 11, 2010

Training Up A Child

Two years ago, I asked my husband if we could make a small area in our backyard into a little prayer garden. It was already closed off to some degree by 2 walls of trellises and wooden fencing, with a roof of trellis overhead. Since then, we’ve been developing it, trying to create a place of retreat in which I can unwind outdoors. My prayer garden has a bench where I can sit, on my own or with someone else, sheltered yet open. I can pray, read, write, all while listening to the soothing sounds of the water fountain on the deck just steps away or the waterfalls in the pond a few yards beyond that. On another trellis which we placed there last year to provide the front piece of privacy, grows purple Climatis, a transplant rescued from an obscure corner of our backyard where it was unable to be admired. I also have pink Knock-Out Roses, unique Day lilies, Astilbe and Hukera; as well as a few decorative stepping stones and garden d├ęcor.

My husband bought me a beautiful climbing honeysuckle plant to be placed in my garden near a newly-installed trellis. The purpose of this fourth trellis was another way to add a final degree of privacy, while offering the ability to still experience the sights and sounds of the rest of the yard if desired. This honeysuckle is such a nice compliment to all of my other plantings. Just the other day, the landscaper in my husband emerged to show me how to “train up,” the vine so it grows up, not out. He said that when I see that the small vines are starting to grow outward, gently pull them back toward the trellis and intertwine them with it, allowing for a proper anchor to help them in their climb. As a writer mama whose heart is rooted in what God wants for my children, I naturally and immediately thought of an analogy between training this honeysuckle and training my children.

How true is that we are supposed to be training our children to grow up, toward God, toward Heaven, instead of growing out into the world? How many times have I thought about this, prayed about this, or written about it on this blog? The purpose of children is to bring glory to God, not just by having them but also by raising them with hearts for him, teaching them about His love and directing their paths toward His will for their lives. I think parents represent that landscaper, or gardener, gently pulling the delicate vines of our children’s hearts so that they may anchor themselves by the proper means (solid family life, modest behavior, prayerful hearts, like-minded friends) to be able to grow upward toward Him. It is our duty, our calling, to do this and yet, we often forget and find ourselves trying to strong-arm straggling vines back to their anchors, and sadly, some of us might give up completely.

It doesn’t take much to coerce those happy little vines outward, let me tell you. Just this morning I walked out, having forgotten about last week’s landscape lesson (shhh, don’t tell hubby!), and found many growing wildly outward, reaching for other anchors – weak anchors, unbefitting of the needs of the vines, drawing them into the shadows of the dark corners of the garden. Such is the same for our precious children, only exponentially worse. Everywhere we look, there are many of these weak “anchors,” many means for our children to be pulled out into the darkness. We can’t even turn on the T.V. without being assaulted with commercials from companies whose message not-so-subtly implies some sort of sexual agenda alongside their attempts to get you to buy their products. And how many packs of children run rampant in our neighborhoods, well past dark, unaccompanied by any adult, parents unaware of where their children are at any given moment? And what are those children doing? God only knows....literally.

Proverbs 22:6 says “Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.” If we do what we are supposed to do, as God’s servants raising His children, if we stick to His teaching about taking these vines of our children’s hearts and anchoring them in the proper way, we will be rewarded with beautiful children whose hearts are deeply anchored in the important things of life, growing strongly toward Him, and the knowledge that we succeeded in this aspect of serving and bringing glory to Him.


Mary said...

Very nice, Becky. You are so insightful.

By the way, the abortion counter on the left side of the screen is very distressing. :(

Judy Dudich said...

THANK YOU for this wonderful post!
I love the way that the lesson-at-hand of training up the plant...AND the children...came to you through your beautiful!
I must leave the computer now but will come back later to re-read this as it has given me pause for some great reflection. Bless you Rebecca.