There are many things in our culture that have just become normal and remain unquestioned. Yet every once and a while, someone breaks that mold. As a result, they are met with astonishment and questions. In the case of large families with lots of children, the thought of it often goes against what many people have grown up to believe about family size and even financial obligations. So the question often arises: “How do you do it?” Pastor Scott Harper is very familiar with this scenario and he presents this thought provoking answer regarding trusting God with a large family.
“How do you two do it?”
I cannot begin to tell you how many times people ask that question to my wife and me. I guess I never really understood why it was so surprising to see 11 children roll out of a 15-passenger van. For us, it was normal.
Here is the backstory for anyone who doesn’t know our family. Sarah and I have 11 children. We have a 15-person van as our family vehicle, and we travel in our RV for family trips. Our oldest two are out on their own now, and we have one in college and three grandchildren.
It has been very fulfilling to watch people try to count our kids as they unfold out of the RV or van, like clowns at a circus. After they lose their place or run out of fingers, I love walking over and saying, “11, there are 11.” At that point comes the question we started with, “how do you two do it?”
Let’s find a common point of reference
If I pondered the question long enough, I could understand people’s concerns or astonishment. However, the answer to the question is too easy, but that is later.
I look at our life, and I see all of the same struggles as anyone else and a few extras as I am also a pastor and a principal. We make menus for the week, run kids to soccer, daughters to dance, and still try to keep the house clean. We wrestle the kids into clothes for school and church, and we are sometimes late. Sometimes, we even cheat on the menu and order take out when it has been a long day at work.
That brings us back to the question, “How do you do it?”
It’s a God thing.
What does the Bible say about trusting God?
As I said, the answer is easy, walking in it is the journey. Somewhere along the way, we agreed with the scripture in Genesis that said be fruitful and multiply. It didn’t say add, subtract, or divide – it said multiply. I have to rely on how Sarah and I lean on each other. I have to rely on God and trust Him that he would not have BLESSED us with 11 kids, three grand-kids, and three dogs if He wasn’t going to give us the strength and the resources to do the job. Now, I am not saying it is always easy; our journey with God isn’t always easy. The key is being committed to the family. No matter what comes up.
One thing that we can stand on
We have teenagers, pre-teenagers, and a 3-year-old who thinks she’s 17, and a few in between. In the middle of everything that goes on, there is one thing we always try to remember –
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7 KJV
That has been our scripture to rest on. Without God, there is fear in every manner of life’s struggles. Fear of failure in raising children, fear of poverty and how to send a child to college, fear of rejection of our kids, and more than we can cover in this short blog. When I say it is a God thing, it really is. We have to learn to rely on God, trust Him, and rest in Him in everything.
How do we afford that many kids?
I had someone ask me a follow-up question, “how do you afford THAT MANY kids?” That’s a fear statement. Granted, there are real logistics behind affording “that many” blessings, but God does provide the increase when we trust in Him.
I think back to Philippians 4:13. Which says: I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me. We can’t do anything through our own strength or our own understanding. We can plan and plan and plan, but if it’s because of fear, there is no blessing there.
Proverbs 3:5 teaches us to trust in the LORD with all of our hearts. We do not trust in our plans, our schedules, our own understanding, but on the LORD. That is the key.
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. Proverbs 3:5 KJV
There is a manual for kids!
When people say things like they wished there was a manual for kids, I giggle because there is one. It’s called the BIBLE. We just have to open it and read it. Gal 5:22&23 are the foundations for “how do you do it”: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. That’s the key.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 KJV
This is not about performance but our heart
It isn’t about being perfect but about having a perfect hatred of evil and a heart to do everything according to God the Father and Jesus’ example. This applies both to our own lives and to how we love and raise our children for Him. That’s the joy of repentance. When we try to walk and fail, we stand up, brush ourselves off, repent for our mistake and our sin, and keep walking forward.
Back to the original question. “How do you do it?” It really is the question each of us asks ourselves, “how do I do…?” Each of our answers should be: start with God – His grace, His mercy, His love, and His Word!
Pastor Scott Harper