Sometimes in life we approach decisions in which we have a profound opportunity to shape the future in significant ways for our children, grand-children, and generations to come. Sometimes these decisions are private and go unnoticed by everyone except God. These decisions probably come most often in ways that we don't even realize at the moment...the little things in the daily grind that eventually become significant.
And then sometimes these decisions are public and receive either public outcries or public adoration. We see them coming, we research and anticipate the outcome, praying we make the best decision as the critical hour approaches. .
One such of these decisions is upon North Dakotans next week. We are indeed in a critical hour.
Next week North Dakotans get to either agree or disagree that these words should be added to our state constitution:
"The inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development must be recognized and protected.”
Like most pro-life legislation, this has been a hot-topic of discussion, with much confusion about beginning of life issues (namely IVF) and end-of-life issues. Many people with much more education than me in both law and medicine have written excellent documents about how and why this amendment will not impact the right to fertility treatments or end-of-life decisions. I encourage you to read them...they are lengthy and detailed and exceptionally helpful. I'll also point you to this excellent blog post about the concern of end-of-life issues that I found to be remarkably helpful.
My goal is not to address those issues because so many others already have, better than I could.
But I'd like to share my heart, friends. Because next week we have an opportunity to speak up for life. We have an opportunity to agree with life...that it's valuable from the moment God chooses to breathe it, and that it never loses its value.
This amendment won't repeal any laws or make any immediate changes, but it will protect our current laws and shape future laws, so that in North Dakota life will continue to be protected.
And life must be protected, friends. Life is the fabric of our being in a deeper way than we could ever imagine. When God created man and woman in Genesis 1:26-27, He said that humankind was different than all other creations because we are made in God's very own image. We bear the image of God in a unique manifestation that is more personal and intimate than any other part of creation. God is always for life (hence the resurrection), and that's why we, created in His image, must always be for life too. To not be for life is to be against our very nature.
Every time God chooses to breathe life, there's a new, separate, unique life, though connected to its mother, that deserves protecting. This is so often the heartache of women who choose abortion...they know intrinsically that they must protect the life they are carrying, yet out of fear or lack of support they feel like they cannot protect it, and that crisis wages war in their souls oftentimes for years afterward.
Before I go any further, I'd like to address those readers who have walked the painful road of abortion. I want you to know that though I don't know who you are, I love you. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ, only grace, mercy, love and newness.
Though I haven't walked your road, I've talked with so many who have. I've cried with women who've walked that road and then regretted it for years later. I've held teenage girls whose hearts are shattered because they've already faced that road.
And my prayer for you is that you would feel the showers of grace and mercy that God desires to pour over you, and that you would allow God to bestow on you a crown of beauty instead of ashes of shame or pain (Isaiah 61:3).
Friends, fighting for life is done in love.
In our home, we stand for life because we love the God who gives life and we love our Savior who died that we might live life in freedom.
And we stand for life because we love the women and men who are faced with unexpected pregnancies, not wanting them to bear the regret of an abortion for years to come.
And we stand for life because we love the families that are aching to adopt children...the very children that are being aborted in downtown Fargo every week.
I have a close friend who recently worked for a small local adoption agency. She told me several weeks ago that their waiting list of couples waiting to adopt is long, and they need babies. Oh how it hurts my heart to know that couples in our own region are aching to adopt the very babies that are being aborted in our city. It was a Thursday evening when we were having that conversation. Abortions happen on Wednesdays in our city...so immediately my heart and mind went to "...if only some of the women who walked into the abortion facility yesterday had known about all the couples waiting for babies." Adoption agencies and crisis pregnancy centers are doing a mighty work in reaching out to the women and men facing these decisions, but more of us need to be speaking up for adoption. When a woman in an unexpected pregnancy chooses adoption, it brings life in so many ways. God's heart is for adoption and life, and it's out of a deep love for families that we pray for abortion to end and adoption to multiply.
And of course, we stand for life because we love the babies.
In our marriage we've lost two babies to miscarriage - at six weeks and ten weeks. Both of those being in the first trimester, those babies' deaths would have been very similar timing as most abortions in Fargo. And friends, I can tell you in assurance that what I miscarried wasn't just tissue or clumps of cells...we lost babies. Babies into whom God had breathed life; babies whose hearts had been beating; babies for whom God had plans. In Romans 8, the Apostle Paul writes about how all of creation groans under the weight of the fall...that the whole creation has been subjected to the reality of death because of the fall of man into sin. So death happens, yes. Disease and death now affect us all, including sometimes babies. But that doesn't mean God is for death or wants death. No. God is for life and has a plan for every life He breathes.
In Isaiah 49:1, Isaiah writes,
"Before I was born the Lord called me; from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name."
In Jeremiah 1:5, God says to Jeremiah,
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart..."
In Psalm 139:13-16 the psalmist praises God saying,
"For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be."
So, biblically speaking, there's really no option other than standing for life and loving the unborn...God makes it abundantly clear He that intends life and purpose for the unborn. And although sometimes, grievously, death does naturally occur before a child is even born, it's not our place to take the life on our own accord. God loves the unborn, and if we want to agree with God, then our only option is to love the unborn as well.
And, the thing is, that in loving the unborn, friends, we also must love well the mother that carries the unborn. Because if we are going to love that unborn baby then we are going to care for that unexpected mother. We are going to care for her heart, her needs, her finances, her relationships, and her soul. Because mother and baby are interconnected, loving one must mean loving the other.
Some opponents have argued that this amendment will make abortion illegal in North Dakota. I've done a lot of research and what I've found is that in fact, the amendment does not make abortion illegal but rather adds a protective covering to the current pro-life laws we already have in our state.
But here's the thing friends...even if this amendment did make abortion illegal (which it doesn't), isn't that what we would want for our own children?
My husband and I are raising four children in North Dakota, any of whom may find themselves in an unexpected pregnancy someday. If that happened, that journey would certainly bring challenges that until now I've only watched from the outside. Though that hasn't been part of my story, I'm not naive.
Yet even if that journey did happen upon us, though difficult, there is always hope in new life. Also, there is an amazing gift of adoption, that though not easy, is in fact beautiful because it represents God's heart.
I would pray for my children to find beauty in life rather than a temporary solution in an abortion that could bring with it decades of regret. If any one of my children ever found themselves in an unexpected pregnancy, I would want them to come to me instead of an abortion facility.
In fact, this is one of my deepest hopes for the Church...that we followers of Jesus, as the Body of Christ, would be such a beacon of hope and love and care, that women and men (and girls and boys, actually), who find themselves in unexpected pregnancies would run toward the Church instead of toward the abortion facility. Most women (and girls) who enter an abortion facility don't do so because they want to...they do so because they feel it's their only option. More often than not, fear is what compels her toward the abortion facility.
In the horrific situation of rape, it's often thought that abortion would be the least painful option. But in reality, adding an abortion to the trauma of a rape means adding one atrocity onto another, often multiplying the young woman's trauma. More than anything else, the young woman in the scenario of rape needs the love and care of Jesus lavished upon her.
So what if the Church was so loving that women (girls) came to us instead? And friends, those churches, those gatherings of the Body of Christ, are out there. There are many in my own city...our family attends one of the many. Churches that love unabashedly with the audacious, life-giving love of Jesus...they're out there. They're everywhere. (If you're looking for one, I'll help you find one). But we need to keep reaching and reaching so that people can see us and feel us and find Jesus in their time of need.
But friends, no one is going to find us if our voices just blend in with the crowds of the culture. And that's why we must speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves (Proverbs 31:8). We must love the unborn as new image-bearers of God, and the women who carry those unborn image-bearers.
We must speak for life, vote for life, value life, provide for life, protect life, and love life at every stage.
Because God does.
From Genesis to Revelation, God is for life.
And I think that deep down, we all know that agreeing with God is right and good.
So, that's why, in this critical hour, let's choose life. Always life.