I just came across this letter I wrote ten years ago. A good reminder, and I'm glad to see I haven't been pushed away from this over the last ten years:
I wanted to respond to this interesting paragraph: "I do have my hesitations here when it comes to raising children. ...you must shelter; you must protect your children from some people. You can offer your own self, but I doubt very much God would ask you to put your kids at risk. ...I'd want to be darned sure it was God talking before I'd put my kids in harm's way."
I certainly agree with the "I want to be darned sure it's God talking" part. Of course I want to be darned sure it's God calling when I risk my own life, too. But the concern will be much more when it starts to include others as well (especially those I care for as much as I would my own children). The risk and challenge is multiplied a thousandfold, I agree.
I'm not so sure about the "must shelter, must protect" part, though. Or the (implied?) idea that "normal" life is less risky for kids (depending on what kinds of risks we're considering). Our children's lives are always at risk, I'm sure you realize that. I would think parenting also teaches how incapable we are to shelter and protect our children completely, or even as much as we want to. It's simply too much for us. I think that's something God means to teach us through the experience of being a parent. We cannot do what must be done. I think the news clipping you sent is a good example of this [a girl fell into the water and father died trying to save her but was unable—rescue workers found her unconscious and revived her].
Our kids rely on us—but hopefully we know enough to not rely on ourselves. We have to rely on God, and let our kids provision and protection rest on God's shoulders. If we do not, the only options I see are a life of fear/despair or complete delusion.
Which brings me to "I doubt very much God would ask you to put your kids at risk." Certainly God does allow all of us (including children) to be at risk. Risk is not bad when it helps us towards faith. But I agree that God loves our children even more than we do and is ultimately concerned with their care and safety. So why would I not trust him to provide for them just as well (or better) than he has provided for me? Is he not able? Has he not promised to do so? Do I really need to take things back into my own hands if I get married and have children (because the risk is just too great)?
God provided abundantly for Jesus (whose example I'm trying to follow). But not just for him alone. God also provided for twelve others that lived with him. How is this different from having a family with me?
I like your questions. Several others have not asked questions, but rather have told me that family is impossible while living the way I do (or the way Jesus did). But I'm getting the distinct impression that it's not so much me that they are concerned with, but themselves. Justifying and excusing themselves. Because if following Jesus this way is incompatible with marriage, then as married people they are excused. Or they are justified in their compromises because of the duty and demands of parenting. This is beginning to anger me. Because, to justify and excuse themselves (bad enough) they are throwing a hindrance, a temptation, in my way. And in Heather's way. Very bad.
I don't see you doing this, though. And I am grateful for your sharing and concern. I just hope in this discussion we can be guided by faith and not just by what we see (2 Cor 5.7).
So far so good. Our latest little surprise came when we noticed that the boy has almost outgrown his car seat (an expensive item). Within a couple days a friend asked us, out of the blue, if we needed one. Her daughter's the same age, born the day before Ian, but her mother insisted on buying them another car seat that would fit the base in her car. And it turns out their old one is good for an extra ten pounds—that should hold him for a while...