Not Dead, Just Dormant
No, I’m not dead. I’m still here, it’s just that I let my writing lie dormant for a time while I got used to the idea that we’re going to be bringing a new person into this world in a few more months. There’s been a lot that I’ve had to think about and work through, and though many times I’ve thought about putting it out here, I never quite felt that those thoughts and notions were clear enough for that.
Probably one of the biggest things that I realised over the past few weeks was that parenthood is a facet of the first job and responsibility that God gave to mankind – partnered stewardship of this planet and its flora and fauna:
Genesis 1: 26, 28 (AKJV)
And God said: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth.
And God blessed them, and God said unto them: “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
Genesis 2: 8, 15, 18, 21-24 (AKJV)
And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there He put the man whom He had formed.
And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.
And the Lord God said: “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.”
And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; and the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made Him a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh.
This was not rescinded after the Fall. Adam and Eve were not given different orders, they were only told the consequences of their sin and sent out of Eden to continue as they could. And after the Flood, God more or less repeated Himself to Noah and his family, and swore to Himself to keep things going as they had before:
Genesis 8:15–17, 21–22 (AKJV)
And God spake unto Noah, saying: “Go forth of the ark, thou, and thy wife, and thy sons, and thy sons’ wives with thee. Bring forth with thee every living thing that is with thee, of all flesh, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and be fruitful, and multiply upon the earth.”
…and the Lord said in His heart: “I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done. While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.”
Genesis 9: 1–2, 7 (AKJV)
And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them: “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. … And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein.”
Add to this what we know from the New Testament – that every individual has a calling and a destiny, and that every individual has a personal choice to make regarding his relationship with the Creator – and I realised with great consternation that we who would be parents (and mere pitiful shadows of the true Father) are merely stewards of these lives we bring forth into the world.
Children are no more meant to be little gods/idols in our lives than property to be controlled or exploited for our own satisfaction/fulfilment – we know this, yes, but that’s not the same as realising that parenthood is a divine task. We are to steward these souls and ensure that they are equipped, to the best of our ability, for the callings and tasks that the Lord has in store for them. And to put it frankly, God has no grandchildren: we would be fools to consider these unique souls “our children” in the long term, because once they are independent, they really are our siblings. We’re really just helping our Father to raise our younger brothers and sisters and prepare them for what He has in store for them to do in their own personal lives.
It blows the mind when you look at this in the light of conventional thinking about the relationship between parents and children, especially in Asian cultures where filial piety is so celebrated: We are merely the physical vessels that made their entry into this realm possible. They owe us nothing; we are to do everything in our power to raise and equip and train them because we have been given that responsibility by God, and it is to Him alone that we are to dedicate all that effort. It is therefore His prerogative alone to reward us for a job well done or not. We have no claim on our children, not really.
Of course, this is not to say that familial bonds and love are not part of the picture. Scripture is full of passages that talk about the importance of family, the significance of familial relationships, and it prioritises family over what is conventionally understood as church-related ministry. That’s another whole area to explore, but I’m convinced that it comes into its proper place only after we realise that parenthood is really ministry – stewardship, on behalf of the Creator Himself.
Confused? Don’t be. I suspect it’s all interconnected mysteriously, like how the Godhead is Three in One and One in Three, clearly distinct and unique in their personalities and yet wholly inseparable and Whole as God. After all, did He not design us in His own image? Our job is to listen to Him and obey Him, and understanding will come later. He is merciful and gracious towards our doubts and questionings, but in the end, He is God, and we are man, and we are to hear and obey.