Unless the Lord Builds the House

how far we've come

Psalm 127 has one of the wisest sayings in the Bible:

“Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain.”

People and nations throughout history have discovered the power behind these words – some to their benefit and some to their disaster. Today I want to share about them from a personal family level. 50 years ago I realized the truth of this passage as I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. For the last 50 years I have been growing in my understanding of their truth and I have only just begun to plumb their depths. The Psalm goes on to reveal the way in which God builds the house spoken of here.

“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.”

Children! Children raised with love and the fear and admonition of the Lord. I have learned that children have at least two powerful functions in your life: 1) They are the motivation that brings forth care, patience, and unqualified love like nothing else in life, and 2) they are also the mirror God uses most (after your wife of course) to show you who you are. In them you can truly see yourself. As they grow into adulthood they also drive you to depend on God more than most things because they soon make it clear that you can no longer directly control their every step. You are forced to seek God in prayer on their behalf and hope beyond hope that you prepared them to meet life.

The week before Thanksgiving, at 1:30 am on a cold Sunday morning our house burned. What didn’t burn was ruined by smoke and the abundant water the fire fighters needed to put out the fire. As I stood outside watching the flames and smoke there were my children and grandchildren forming a line to carry valuables and mementos handed through a bedroom window by firefighters and police who were there to save as much as possible. My children have shouldered the burden of providing food and clothing for us (all was lost), meeting with insurance agents, itemizing things lost, and the abundance of details you never think of that need to be done after such an event. It is surely true “They shall not be ashamed, but shall speak with their enemies in the gate.” Not that the insurance agents are our enemies but the fire certainly was!

Children are a piece of you and they are also a piece of God because He gives every one of them a spirit that comes directly from Himself. You might say, they are the down payment on the future. When the prophet Malachi laments about the ugly practice of divorce declaring that God “hates divorce”, he reveals the divine reason for marriage:

But did He not make them one, Having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, And let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth. Malachi 2:15

Children truly are a heritage from the Lord! They are the greatest opportunity God ever gives to man; his hardest challenge and his greatest reward all rolled into one.

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