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The Long Crop
Photo: Jennifer Sharp
My father-in-law comes over to our place for Sunday dinner most weekends. As I said grace on one Sunday, I thought how good it was that he lived close enough to drop over just whenever. My father-in-law is in his late eighties. While he is still healthy, and still lives in his own home, when the day comes that he needs help we are close enough to give it. Some day that time will come.

Where he lives does not matter– we would be there when he needed us. If something happened to my parents – 1500 miles away – I or one of my brothers would soon be there. It is what you do for your parents.

Two of my three sons were at dinner that day. They are now adults. My oldest with a job in California, was missing. My middle son is in college and my youngest starts college next year. My middle son happened to be home on break. 

I realized that he was doing what I had done when I was in college. My wife and I often went to my in-laws for Sunday dinner. A thought struck me. Thirty years from now we might be sitting through Sunday dinner together when I am in my eighties and my son is in his fifties. Except I would be the one coming over to his place, and he the one glad to be on hand if I needed help as I grew older. Suddenly I was glad as I never have been before, that I had chosen to become a parent.


You choose to become a parent when you are in your twenties or thirties. It is easy to put off. Kids are expensive. Kids take up a lot of time. You worry if you can really take care of them. Should you wait until things are more settled financially? Will you be a good enough parent?

So you put off the decision. And put it off again, and again. Then you are in your forties. If you are a woman you may no longer be able to bear children. If you are a man you worry about having children not yet out of the house when you retire. When you are in your fifties, it is suddenly too late. You go into your twilight years alone.

If you have children in your twenties, not until you reach your fifties – and they are young adults – do you really appreciate the decision you made back then. It is true. By your standards today you were just a child yourself then. Suddenly you realize the value of that choice – both in terms of pride in having raised productive adults and the realization that they will be there for you when you need them. As Proverbs 23:24 states:  “The father of a righteous man has great joy; he who has a wise son delights in him.” 

Children are the long crop. By the time you harvest the fruits of this labor, you lack time to plant and harvest another crop in season before your winter comes. Whatever you achieve or produce in life – money earned, deeds accomplished, things created – your children will be there  when those no longer matter.

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By Mark Lardas. Copyright © 2009 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®.

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