By Rudy Hagood (with Osharye Hagood)
Long before Jeff Bezos launched Amazon, God was sending precious gift packages from heaven all over the globe. God delivers sparks of life we call children. Kids are “divine gifts” of the breath of life delivered to the living.
Psalm 127:3 says, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward” (English Standard Version). Wow, what an unthinkable gift! In my gratitude, I want to be a blessing to God, the gift-giver, while also striving to give the best gift I possibly can to my kids.
Yet, what should I give? I, like most parents, want them to have financial freedom, an excellent education, and of course, I want them to be Dodger fans!
Seriously, however, my first thought was, I want them to know Jesus. That is the most important gift our kids could ever receive, but in this salvific exchange, I am not the giver. King David said, “For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation” (Psalm 62:1, ESV, emphasis mine). Then Luke wrote, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12, emphasis mine). Salvation clearly is a gift from “no one else” because salvation comes “from him.” So, in my mind this question remains—what is the best gift I can leave for my children?
The Greatest Gift We Give Our Children
In considering this, I think back to the birth of one of my divine gifts. I remember it like it was yesterday, my daughter’s birth, the initiation of a new soul that God grew and nurtured in my beautiful wife, Osharye! I remember how proud and amazed I was at what my sweet Osharye-Amore endured and the miracle that came forth from her.
Then it hit me; this was more than a birth—an actual brand-new person was introduced into existence, and that person, in part, had come from me. I cannot fathom how people believe that miracles have ceased.
Every new life is evidence of the One who is infinite life continuing to distribute himself into finite life while giving each of us the opportunity for eternal life. At that very moment, all the pains and struggles of the previous nine months revealed the divine glory of our anticipation.
I’ve been told that many women somehow forget the pain of bringing the miracle of God into the world. Um, that’s not Osharye’s testimony . . . she remembers! Husbands experience awe for their wife’s strength and simultaneously experience love at first sight. For this new life is completely distinct from them, while also being thoroughly dependent on them. At the moment of birth, the two who are one become three and yet still must remain one.
That’s it, my friends. That’s the gift we owe to our kids. It is to remain one. Audrey Hepburn said, “If I get married, I want to be very married.” Our kids need to see us not just holding on to marriage by a thread, but see a marriage bursting with life!
I get it. We see their birth, we experience these miracles, and we become so overwhelmed at the divine gift that we become distracted from our adoration of God and from our commitment to our marriage. I cast no judgment. It makes sense. How can finite man not have a disorienting overreaction from receiving a direct gift from our infinite God? Yet, that God who gave us such a wondrous gift to care for, steward, train, love, and point back toward God is the same God who calls us married folks to hold on to one another.
Jesus said, “So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:6, ESV, emphasis mine). I must rephrase this to make a point. “Parents, what therefore God has joined together, let not our kids separate!” We cannot let the divine gifts overpower the covenant!
Yes, I know, our kids are us, but our kids are not the marriage covenant we vowed to God to honor until death do us part. Our covenant was made, spouse to spouse, with the most high God. My friends, the best gift for the “divine gifts” is a healthy marriage.
How We Lose Our Way
So how do we lose our way? Here’s a synopsis of what often happens to our marriages and our devotion to God.
God blesses us with children and we experience love for them at first sight. Then, based on the impact of experiencing the beauty of the divine gift of children, we shortly thereafter take off our husband uniform and our wife uniform. We put on our father and mother outfits. This seems great at first, so we barely even notice we no longer are prioritizing our marriage. Unwittingly, our children become an emotional wall dividing what we once called a union. Why? Because we become child-centered over Christ-centered and child-centered over covenant-centered. We begin to invest our affinities, resources, and time into these divine gifts of God, these children.
Tell me, does this sound familiar?
“Let’s go out tonight, Honey.”
“Oh no, we can’t do that . . . our baby needs new school clothes, and those karate lessons aren’t free.”
When we begin to forego personal time with our spouse, we sacrifice their needs. Instead, as parents, we choose to meet every desire of our children. Prioritizing our children in this way will often cause husbands and/or wives to become jealous of the affection given to the child. All this results from investing our relational capital into our kids at the expense of our spouse—at the expense of our covenant.
Someday our kids will grow up, leave for college, and typically move on to their own marriages. We, the parents (insert dramatic music) are left living with strangers. We suddenly are in a relationship that hasn’t grown in almost 18 years. When life plays out this way, we indirectly teach our children not to prioritize their relationships.
The cycle of child-centered marriages is in full effect. Now our marriages, which were meant to reflect the love of Christ for the church and the adoration of the church for Christ, have been flipped to the degree that the gift is adored more actively than God, the gift-giver.
A Model for Our Children and Grandchildren
Are we training our children who desire marriage to have healthy relationships, so that they can raise our grandchildren in healthy environments? My friends, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6, ESV). Let’s train up our children who desire marriage to be “very married.”
I encourage you—while you are caring for the precious package, this gift from God, make sure you are also committed to your marriage covenant. Your commitment to your spouse is the best gift you could ever give your children. A beautiful, God-fearing, healthy marriage will serve as a model for your children when they are blessed with their own divine gifts. All-in together, my friends, let’s be very married.