It never ceases to amaze me how God continues to protect the lost so that they may come to a place where they meet and accept Him. He walks with those who have chosen to follow him so that they may come to know Him. And how He makes mighty warriors out of those who surrender to him so that His kingdom may be expanded and others may accept the gift of His Love.
I dare not call myself a warrior because it is God’s power I use to fight with. I have won no battles on my own. I can take no pride even in calling myself a follower of Jesus. Even as sheep know to follow their Shepherd, so we are made to be with the Lord. We have only to admit we are lost.
So that is how I count myself – Lost, blessed to be found, and honored to be made into a tool used to build His Kingdom. So goes the path in my story of coming to serve the Lord through Pro-Life Mississippi.
Do I need to say I wasn’t always a committed prolife Christian? I was raised in the church but, as seems to be so common now, I was hard headed with a good dose of the hard heartedness which comes along with it. All I saw was the ceremony, never the Savior. My mistake was in looking at the faults of a church which was made up of imperfect men and failing to separate them from the perfection of God. It gave me a nice, easy, convenient excuse to turn my back on my Creator and attempt to become my own personal god. Of course this wasn’t how I thought of myself at the time, but it’s closer to what I was really doing than most of us want to admit.
Had you asked my opinion on abortion at the time, I probably would have given you one of the pro-choice cookie cutter answers: “It’s none of my business, I’m never going to be pregnant.” “It’s just a lump - not like we’re talking about an actual baby here.” “Where do you get the right to tell anybody what they can do with their body?” And here’s the kicker “Who made you God?”
I guess I could try to make myself look better by saying I never persecuted the prolifers, or helped a girl get an abortion, or marched the pro-choice picket lines. The truth, oddly, seems somehow worse to me: I just didn't know anything about the issue, really didn't care as long as nobody was trying to take anything away from me, and didn't have enough spine to take a stand one way or the other. It hurts to admit, and I'm ashamed of myself for being so depraved.
It's strange to think of the Israelites wandering the wilderness year after year as being under God's care and protection, but that's how I feel it was for me while I was lost in my own personal desert. Looking back, there were so many times when I could have slithered down the wrong path, but something distracted me at the last second and I turned back in (almost) the right direction. It's not that I was following the Lord, or even playing hide and seek with Him. I was indifferent. But He was following me, staying just close enough that I could hear Him calling my name while I was trying to make up my own rules.
Give a man enough rope and he will hang himself? Nothing so dramatic in my case. The rope was more like a piece of yarn dragged in front of a kitten – play with it long enough and the little fuzzball will happily jump into a bathtub full of water to get it. It took years of me chasing that string before God got me to the foot of the Cross. By then I had begun to realize how vast the gift was that was given there for me, and of course my bath was not in water; rather I was cleansed with blood.
Looking at it in that light, perhaps it was a bit dramatic. The Prodigal Son returns! The God Shaped Hole is filled! What now? Where to go from here? And why did I take so long wandering in the desert?
The simple answer to that last question would be that I wasn't ready to accept Jesus as my Savior, but it goes deeper than that: God wasn't ready to accept me yet either. I do not believe for a second that He would turn away one of His children or that there isn't great joy and celebration in Heaven each time a sinner finds their way home, as in the story of the Prodigal Son, but there are also lessons to be learned wandering the desert for 40 years like the Israelites. Sometimes it's better to learn your lessons the hard way. God's timing is perfect.
God protected me while I was lost, and was teaching me at the same time, although I didn't know it. The next chapter in my education came from my job as a technician fixing photocopiers and fax machines. No obvious Christian influence there, but my job was in Jackson, and my house was in Carthage, meaning I had an hour to kill each way every day. I spent it listening to the radio. Focus on the Family in the morning, and The Mississippi Connection with Matt Friedeman in the afternoon.
The topics during Sanctity of Human Life week really hit home with me for a number of reasons.
My wife loves children and wanted nothing more than to have a large family, but at 13 she was told that even to try having a child could kill her. Finding out we were pregnant was not the joy it should have been and we were repeatedly pressured by several people to “terminate.”
Of course we refused. Politely at first... Less so toward the end.
The Great Physician knows best, and other than being on edge the whole pregnancy, there were no complications. On January 13, 1999 we greeted our son. He arrived nearly perfect.
He was born with a small dimple at the base of his spine. In some people the spine is open and can cause all sorts of nasty complications, but in his case it didn't even really qualify as a cosmetic defect. It probably would have disappeared on its own eventually and was unlikely to cause any problems, but any parent will tell you that phrases like that just aren't good enough when it comes to their kids. We decided to have it fixed.
Our son is a perfect example of Dr. Dobson's definition of boys: “All afterburner, no rudder”; in other words he was absolutely healthy in every way. Yet one of the doctors looking him over told us “We'll be able to spot this kind of thing on the new ultrasound machines very soon and can recommend abortion”
We were horrified. As with any profession, most doctors are dedicated to their patients and truly excellent, but there are just a few others who got their bedside manner out of a bubblegum machine. I couldn't believe this kind of ignorance was allowed to exist anymore.
I had friends, family, and physicians who all at one point or another suggested I kill my child. Should I believe any of these people had anything to count against a healthy innocent baby? Why would any of them want to destroy a life because of what might be? And even if you change “might be” into “will be,” is it worth taking a life? Then I started thinking about all the convenience abortions where there's not even a “might be” to try and justify it. Who should hold the keys over life and death?
Nobody wants to be an executioner, so why is abortion still talked about so lightly? My answer came from Hanlon's Razor: “Never ascribe to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.” Perhaps a bit blunt, but accurate nonetheless. None of these people acted like it was a big deal because none of them acknowledged the life of a tiny person was at stake. They needed to be educated, and God had been preparing me to do it for a long time. I just needed something to flip the switch and turn me on.
When Matt Friedeman got on the radio and began asking people to get “In the Fight,” I wanted to be first in line. PLM had put together a training class for new sidewalk counselors that weekend and nothing was going to stop me from going...Until my wife met me at the door very excited about the plans she had made for the same day. And I had to be there.
Have you ever had such good news you either had to share it with somebody or club them over the head with it until they listen? We both had that kind of good news and we were both ready to go 12 rounds in a knock down, drag out, winner take all match to get it out. I guess we had just started the second round when we realized we had both been listening to the same radio program. Wasn't much question God wanted us involved with this ministry!
We both went to the class, and we both spent time on the sidewalk in front the abortion clinics (there were 2 at the time), but while Amanda went on to become a powerful warrior for the Lord on the sidewalk, it took me about 5 minutes to realize that was not where God wanted me. It didn't take much longer to realize ProLife Mississippi had more opportunities for ministry than I could possibly count, and God was happy to show me what He needed.
It started with admitting I was lost. The biggest lesson was to listen to God and do it His way. Sometimes that makes life a lot harder, but with Him to lean on and to lead me it sure seems easier.
Your Brother In Christ,