Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Sounds that Changed My Heart

For many people, the topic of abortion is a political issue resolved by getting the right issues passed and the faithful candidates into office. For others, it is an economical issue. They simply didn’t think they could afford another mouth to feed and thought abortion was their only option. For others, abortion is emotional issue. Perhaps they know someone deeply touched by abortion. We know that this likely includes one in five of the families in our churches. For others, abortion is a theological/moral issue defining when life begins and who has the right to take a life. As a Pastor abortion is all of these, but mostly it is personal. Deeply personal.
It was the summer of 1984. I was worshipping regularly back then, just not Jesus but baseball. My dream was to play ball in college and hopefully beyond. My hopes and dreams would be interrupted that summer by a knock on the door.

Just a few days after high school graduation, I got on a plane to Hawaii with several classmates. We spent a week in paradise doing what young people enjoy doing when there are no parents and a drinking age of 18. When we returned, I spent the next two months worshipping at the altar of baseball…until that knock on the door.

The knock that changed my heart came on a late August day. At the door, stood a friend and classmate that I had been with in Hawaii. She said, “I am pregnant. You are the father.” Those words changed my life. I really don’t remember the rest of the conversation, only the conclusions: We thought we were too young and had too much to look forward to. We couldn’t be parents now. Then there was the sound of the machine at the clinic and the sound of silence as I drove her home from the procedure.  

I know what you are thinking. I think it too, almost every day of my life: “How could you?” I wish I had a better answer than selfishness and fear. It took nine months before that knock on the door would truly penetrate my heart. College had started. Baseball was going well, but something was wrong. Not with my swing, but with my soul. I was struggling to fill the void of sorrow with something, anything.

There would be another sound. On a spring day in 1985, I was pushing a grocery cart down the aisle when I heard a baby cry. Hungry, tired, in need of a change? I am not sure. What was clear was they were the sounds of life. Sounds I would never hear from the child I had fathered. I left my cart and fled the store. I realized that months earlier I had made a horrible mistake. The cries of a baby meant life. What had I done? How do I deal with my guilt?

With questions on my heart, I began to search for answers. My search would eventually lead me to read the Bible. I learned God is the Creator of life (Psalm 139; Jer. 1:5) and children are gift from the Lord (Psalm 127:3).  I learned that all life is precious to God (Psalm 8:3-5). I realized my decision of convenience took a life God held dearly. As I kept reading the Good Book, I realized there was no way to make it right. I simply needed forgiveness and grace (Eph. 1:7). I had taken a life and now my life was in trouble. I needed God’s forgiveness (Col. 1:14). So on May of 1985, in the student union building at college, I prayed, “Jesus if you are real, here’s my life.”

Several months after becoming a Christian, I would eventually ask the mother of my first child to forgive me. She was gracious…and forgiving. Today, she is married with children and serving the cause of Christ. Me? By God’s grace, I have a wonderful wife, two children, three grandchildren, and a ministry I love. I do play softball once a week with some guys from the church, but my life dreams have changed. As Pastor, I am most passionate about helping lost people find forgiveness in Jesus Christ.

Those touched by abortion have a special place in my heart. I know the scars, and I know forgiveness. In 93% of the abortions in our country, convenience is the primary reason a life is taken.[1] That’s a heavy burden many men and women carry. Because of a knock at my door, because of a cry in a store, and because of the sounds of God’s amazing forgiveness and grace, God has allowed me stand for life today. Many don’t realize the most dangerous places today is not the frontline of battle, behind the walls of a prison, or the inner city streets. With an estimated one in four children aborted today, the most dangerous place is the womb of mother. 
The scars of abortion need not define anyone. Jesus wants to forgive and remove the burden of guilt. If I can help you experience the sounds of God’s amazing grace, please let me know.

[1] Aida Torres and J.D. Forrest, “Why Do Women Have Abortions?,”  Family Planning Perspectives,  Vol. 20 NO. 4 (July/August 1988), p. 170.

1 comment:

  1. Sitting hear, in tears, as I read the hurt and pain and HOPE on this computer screen. Thank you for being WILLING to share your loss and pain in such a transparent way. Knowing God continues to use your story for His Kingdom, Lori