My wife Mei Lee and I love children very much. When we decided to get married in 1980, we planned to have “at least three if not four” children. We were prepared to bear the monetary disincentives for not abiding to the “Stop at Two” policy in place then. Psalm 127:3-5 declares “Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them. He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate”.
However, after many months of trying to conceive but with no result, and even after seeing a gynaecologist, we became anxious. And so we cried out to the Lord and prayed for His favour to be upon us. Like Hannah in 1 Samuel 1:11, we prayed that if He would grant us a son, we too would name him Samuel and dedicate him to serve Him all the days of his life.
God answered our prayers. He first blessed us with a baby girl and we named her Charmaine (bountiful joy and delight) for the Lord had blessed us with much joy and delight with the arrival of a much awaited child. We were next blessed with a boy three years later and we named him Samuel to fulfil our commitment to God. Our third child arrived much later and we named her Benita (Blessed). For indeed it was a prayer of thanksgiving; acknowledging His divine grace and mercy to the family. Mei Lee’s blood platelet count dropped suddenly during the third trimester of her pregnancy. As this would endanger her life during labour, she was hospitalized to undergo various tests and was given medical leave for most part of that period.
We were thankful that the church came alongside and prayed for our family. The delivery went through miraculously well (coincidentally it was Good Friday that year!). A life support machine placed on standby outside the delivery room for emergency use was not needed. Indeed, God was merciful and in full control during the delivery.
We participated in the Family Dedication Services for each of our three children! We declared God’s sovereignty over us as parents and acknowledged with thanksgiving that our children are a gift from God. We covenanted to responsibly bring them up to love our Lord and when they grow up they will accept Jesus Christ as their own personal Saviour.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 has provided three valuable insights for us as parents:
1. We are to love our Lord wholeheartedly (vv4-6). We recognise that we are all sinners saved and redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ. We are called into an intimate relationship with our Heavenly Father. And our response (and command) is to love Him in all aspects of our lives –- body, mind and soul.
2. God has given us the responsibility to raise our children (v7). Proverbs 22:6 exhorts us to “train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it”. We are also instructed not to provoke our children into anger, resentment or be discouraged by our words or deeds but instead, to bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4; Colossians 3:21).
3. We are to seize every teachable moment and opportunity to speak into our children’s lives and to tell them about God and His Kingdom’s values (vv7-9). Remember that their faith learning journey is more likely caught than taught, we are to lead a godly life that will glorify our Heavenly Father for our children to emulate.
Looking back, Mei Lee and I are grateful that God honours our commitment made more than thirty years ago. He has called Samuel to serve in the pastoral ministry in church. And for the rest of the household, we, too, pledge that we will continue to love and serve Him in any ministry that He has called us to, whether in church or in the marketplace (Joshua 24:15).
YCKC will have a Family Dedication Service coming up on Sunday, 18 August. As a loving and God fearing community in this local church, all of us are charged with this awesome responsibility to come alongside the parents in our midst to support them in the task of raising their children in the faith. May we as a church stand together and affirm Matthew Henry’s final words to a friend: “A life spent in the service of God and communion with Him is the most pleasant life that anyone can live in this world.” Amen.
By Vincent Lim (YCKC Bulletin 4 August 2019)