There was a time when Peter and I wanted a big family. We were newly-weds and planning our desires for our future. We both loved children. We knew we wanted to homeschool. Peter grew up with a large family of four children. Our conclusion was that a large family of four children was our desire. Fast forward to when we had two children. Admittedly, having kids was a lot harder than we had presumed. We felt maxed out on a practical level, but our conviction about having a large family hadn't changed. We certainly had to outdo the average family out there and be a role model of amazing-ness to all of our peers. But we could also sense that God intended for our lives to be invested in more than a lot of what we were seeing in the world around us.
About that time, Peter accepted his first position as a senior pastor. This suddenly allowed him more time to read and search for answers to many of the questions he had about the dispensational theology he'd been taught in college and the practical function of the American church. Long story short, his reading led him to reformed theology and he found himself convicted of a lot of beliefs that didn't fit with our church backgrounds and that changed the whole direction of our lives. One of the convictions had to do with birth control and trusting God with the size of our family. We spent hours talking these things over as he'd share with me all that he was reading about and answer all of my questions/objections.
As I gave birth to our third child we both felt a different sort of excitement about adding another son to our family. We saw him as a gift from God in a way that we hadn't viewed our first two children. Something had shifted and we saw the whole act of procreation as more about furthering Christ's kingdom than about fulfilling our own desires.
After our fourth child and a number of difficult sacrifices made in order to live in obedience to our new convictions we began to "count the cost." How many kids would God end up giving us anyway? How would that work out financially and in terms of our time resources? We worked through many questions but ultimately believed that the Bible taught us 1)God is to be trusted with all of it 2)raising children is an eternal investment and what would we rather be doing or would God rather us be doing with our money and time than that? In theory, we prepared to give up other pursuits and comforts in order to invest all that we had into raising children. How could a large, nice house, for instance, compare to the blessing of more family and the reward of investing in Christ's kingdom? We understood we would be making a trade-off. We realized that we would watch other families around us have different lives with different flexibility and ease.
That trade-off was much harder in reality as we went on to have several more babies.
I am now pregnant with our 9th baby. I went through a number of years of horrible struggle with my life and my inability to carry out the task and responsibility involved in the choices we had made. The more I had to sacrifice, the more deep-rooted selfishness came to the surface. I am now at a different place with my perspective on this than I was a couple of years ago with my eighth child.
The truth is that resources, (i.e., my body, my time, my mental and physical energies, my belongings, my "wealth") are all given to me by God. All that I have belongs to Him. Anything He gives me, I now see, is only correctly used when seen as an opportunity to do good to others, for His sake. As God has cleaned up my heart, he has convicted me to clean up my life and get busy repairing the ruins and turning my home into a blessing to others, my family members and extending out to minister and spread the gospel to the world around us.
As I began to learn and work on this earlier this year, I found out I was pregnant and it felt a little in-congruent with God's directives. I was thrilled and truly at peace with the pregnancy, but wondered how God wanted me to keep up the "clean up" while growing this baby in my close-to-40-year-old body. Even so, I trusted Him and I knew by now that His plans were always for the best.
This growing child within me is several weeks away from being born. God has faithfully shown me how perfectly this work of growing another human life fits in with the lessons He was/is teaching me. Many aspects of "clean up" that I had been doing had to slow down or stop completely, but the Lord had other ones for me to be working on.
A few thoughts: