Our neighborhood parks have nice playgrounds and level, paved paths for walking, so we visit them from time to time to take a leisurely stroll. With fall in the air, we enjoy the turning leaves, the breeze, and the sound of children at play.
Speaking of children, we almost always see parents with young children during out visits to the park. Parents talking on their cell phones while walking babies in strollers. Parents studying email while their children run circles around them in the grass. Parents playing games on their smartphones while their children climb all over the playground equipment. Parents devoting their attention to electronics while their children lose the opportunity to ask questions, to show mom or dad their latest discovery, or even to learn how to carry on a conversation. What is more valuable, time with the small screens or time with the young faces?
Parents with eyes to see eventually realize that days with their children might go by slowly, but the years go by in a hurry. Before you know it, the kids are out the door, off to school, and the opportunity for quality time starts to slip out of reach. Life is full of choices, and whether to spend time at work or time with the kids may not always be completely under your control. Whether to invest in screen time or face time is mostly up to you.
Children are gifts from God. No matter how much we might joke or grouse about parenthood, children are still a gift from God, and well worth their cost in terms of time, money, and cleaning up messes. We thank God for our children, the additional children brought into our family by marriage, and now the grandchildren that come in the bargain. Psalm 127 resonates with God’s wisdom:
Unless the LORD builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep.
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.