As some of you know, we found out a few weeks ago that we are expecting a baby. This will be our seventh child. We had three sons (Jackson, now 15, Grayson, 11 and Zion, 7) when we adopted Zoe at birth two years ago. Ten weeks ago, we adopted Anna River and Mercy Rain. A month after that, we discovered our surprise.
A lot of people have asked how we feel about it. I’ll admit, it’s a bit daunting. With five or six kids, you reach the tipping point where nothing normal works…a normal house, a normal car, a normal family income. At seven, you start thinking about life entirely differently. You start looking far down the road, because you know a sudden move jerks a lot of people around. All-family car trips become impossible – even in the family Suburban…and you wonder if, were it legal and you had an unlimited supply of green ink, you could possibly print money as fast as you’re going to need it.
All that said, we’re elated. We couldn’t be more excited. We’re not romanticizing things, we’re not delusional, we’re recognizing the hand of God on our lives and we’re leaning hard on it. This is good and this is God. I’m excited for our seventh child to be born because…
I’m learning to move beyond the western definition of comfort.
I have no grand idea that this is going to be easy. Even with ‘just six’, sleeping through the night doesn’t happen for us right now, and it won’t for…a long time. We don’t get a lot of time to talk. Our home – and any home we can afford in the near future – is going to be pretty cozy. Personal space is found primarily between our own ears.
I’m embracing all of this, because I think the western ideal of what it means to be an individual is overblown, oversold, and ultimately dehumanizing. We;re nott teaching individualism, we’re teaching self-ism. If life really isn’t all about me, then having a large family is a good way of expressing that. We are teaching our children to love others by putting them with others 24/7. We’re learning it ourselves, too. I can easily muster up a little kindness for the neighbor on the street. It’s noble – and brief. The real test is whether or not I can muster up kindness for my family in light of their constant presence.
I believe what the Word says about children.
There is an oft-quoted verse in Psalms that says “Children are a heritage from the Lord…blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.” It is rarely fully believed…or rather, it is believed in the rephrasing “Children are a blessing from the Lord providing they don’t crimp my style.” If children really are a blessing from the Lord – not a liability, but a responsibility, and a blessing – than why don’t we see more large Christian families?
We know finances to be a blessing, but we don’t see many Christians refusing a raise because they’ve been blessed plenty already. “Gee, Bob, I’d love the raise, but I’ve got to be responsible…”. No, we take the money and run. We call it the favor of God.
Unfortunately, we’re a little leery of the blessing of children because we’re not sure we believe it…and in many cases, we’re making the choice between a child and a boat, or a second car, or some other misguided marker of the good life. I’m not saying that it’s God’s plan for everyone to have a very large family like ours. I am saying that if you’re limiting it because you don’t want to change your standard of living, you’re shallow and shortsighted.
I believe in long term thinking.
Some time back, I was introduced to Kevin Kelly by a mutual friend. Kevin is a believer, the founding editor of Wired Magazine, and a founding member of the Long Now Foundation, a think tank geared towards the ‘what if the world ISN’T ending…’.
Over coffee, Kevin asked me “What if the world goes on for another 10,000 years – don’t you think Christians ought to be a force in shaping it?” While I don’t agree on his timeline, I greatly admire this thought process. Most American families don’t think beyond their 30 yr mortgage.
This is going to stretch some of you to the point of breaking, but I’m going to say it. Extending the kingdom and influence of God by large families is a huge, oft-missed opportunity for changing our world.
Presently, Islam accounts for about 21% of world population. While their influence is maintained by military might and political persuasion, a significant amount of their sway over the earth is based in the fact that more than one out of five people is a Muslim.
Christianity, on the other hand, accounts for roughly 30% of the earth. All that is true about Muslim influence is also true of Christian influence, although in certain pockets, the tide is tipping, and quickly.
Consider this – the average family size in the US (predominantly Christian) is 3.14, per the US Census Bureau. That’s a mom, a dad, and just over one child.
The average Muslim family, however, is 4.9 persons. That’s mom, dad, and not quite three children. They have just under 3 times as many children than we do.
Let’s break it down to the practical – place a Muslim family in a home across the street from a Christian family. These families grow and buy homes on the street as the children grow. Two generations down, there are thirteen Muslim homes. Christians? Not even four.
Who can disciple a nation while surrendering neighborhoods one by one?
We have so wholeheartedly bought into the fabled American dream that we are willing to limit our future by limiting the size of our families. We’re trading arrows in our quiver for a third garage stall, our flesh and blood inheritance for a plasma screen tv. Making this choice, we are willingly being short sighted and ultimately, hurting the Gospel’s reach in our area.
I want to reiterate – I’m not arguing that every Christian couple should have a family as large as ours….but I am convinced that more should than presently do, and many of those who choose not to have a large family made a choice for comfort over influence or a 401k over eternal blessing. I’m also pretty sure I have tweaked some of those people by messing with their shortsighted plans.
Then again, I’m just a blogger. Inquire of the Lord, friends, and follow His lead.