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.