Family Portrait



Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them.  ~ Psalm 127:4-5a

Here's me in the evening after work, walking with the kids – Daniel, Alina, Sofia (L to R) – Daniel is up top running ahead, the girls are with me (the big one in the middle).  I love having kids, it's the best thing ever.

BTW, I just heard a really interesting sermon about the scripture above – the speaker asked "How would you fill in the blank?  Children are like ____________." He went on to say that we probably did not say "arrows," and he explained this unusual biblical imagery. It speaks of the militancy that a spiritual person must adopt if they are to live in and positively impact this needy and fallen world.  That includes 
preparing one's children to defend themselves and what is right.  

It is somewhat unfortunate that, in these times of jihad and religious conflict, military metaphors in the spiritual life have fallen into disfavor.  As far back as 1986, some have pushed to eliminate militaristic hymns, with various motivations.

Some are just theological pacifists.  Others are actually anti-evangelical, and don't like any aggressive metaphors.  Still others are just wanting to be practical and careful to not provide opportunities for outsiders to misunderstand the spiritual, rather than carnal nature of such statements. For instance, take this stanza from Onward Christian Soldiers

Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war

Notice that this says "AS to war" not "OFF to war" – it is not meant, in context, to mean conquest of people by force in actual physical warfare, but as the hymnist says, in "unity of hope, purpose, and charity" bringing the message of hope to others.

While military metaphors in Christian spirituality don't mean physical conquest, they often do in Islamic theology, hence jihad.  So we must use, but not abandon, this metaphor carefully.  We must also be sure to employ the many other Biblical metaphors for the spiritual life – beyond being soldiers, we are to be disciples, servants, stewards, shepherds, athletes, pilgrims (travelers), priests, children, parents, friends, and guests in this world.