One might think we, of all people, would be advocates of this great focus on the close, tightly bound family. However, that's actually the opposite. Because, if having a tight family unit is your highest priority than you won't have 9 kids. No matter how hard you try you can never keep the family together very long. Before the little ones are very old the older ones are going off to college and before the youngest one is in college the older kids are all over the country, maybe even the world. Pretty scary huh?
So why did we have nine kids? Because we believe that the kingdom of heaven is the most important thing on this earth. What's the first thing God said for His people to do to build the kingdom? "Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth!"
Having a big family is stressful financially, emotionally, and physically. With so many mouths to feed you have to trust God a lot that He'll provide all the food and everything else that is required to support a large family. A big family is emotionally stressful because there are kids of all ages trying to get along more or less successfully. Also the more people there are around the more people you can potentially fight with. Big families are also physically challenging because of all the logistics of fitting everyone in the house, or the car, or whatever. More people by definition means more stress.
So why in the world would anyone ever want to have a big family?
Well, the primary reason is because God wants big families. God wants His earth full of people worshiping Him. So if for no other reason than it pleases God—we think that's a good enough reason all by itself, don't you? There are of course tons of blessings that come with big families, but we'll talk about that some other time.
The Bible says that "Children are like arrows in the hand of a warrior, blessed is he whose quiver is full." This sounds like a big family is a blessing, but wait a minute. What is the point of an arrow? Does one shoot it and run back and pick it up? Perhaps sometimes, but usually arrows are shot and never seen again. Does that mean all children must leave home and never connect back with their parents? Certainly not. But it does mean that we should be prepared for our families to split up. Kids are not meant to stay at home and be close to home all their life. God may have that in store for them, but then again, He may have far more.
We don't fill up our quivers with arrows and then lay them on the mantle piece.
The kingdom of heaven is at stake, Jesus' return is what we are seeking, when the kingdom will be consummated! Until then God has called us to advance that kingdom, by having lots of kids (physically and spiritually). That means that having a large family isn't limited to those who are married and able to bear children. It means making friends and bringing them closer to Christ!
If we idolize the physical family we will make it small so that we can all stay close together and be doing the same thing all the time. So if we idolize our spiritual families we will have only a few close friends that we can hang out with and we won't reach out in love to new people.
Having big families is hard, the more kids you have the more heartache you will feel as each one leaves home and starts his or her own life…but…the greater reward will be celebrated in heaven when all are gathered in once and for all to enjoy eternal fellowship forever! Edward Taylor very profoundly and sweetly compared our children to flowers and said this about them:
That as I said, I say, take, Lord, they're thine.
I piecemeal pass to Glory bright in them.
I joy, may I sweet Flowers for Glory breed,
Whether thou getst them green, or lets them seed.