GOD’S GRACE FOR AN ABORTIVE FATHER

GOD’S GRACE FOR AN ABORTIVE FATHER

The details are vague now, four decades hence. I sat on a curb, or was it a granite ledge? Outside the downtown clinic. Either way, it was cold, barren, like my heart. The girl—yes, still a girl only 17—had disappeared into the nondescript building’s sterile glass door. She had found the place, or had I? I couldn’t remember. Either way, it hadn’t been there long, a new edition to the healthcare—cruelest euphemism—landscape. But I found the money. That I clearly recalled. I found the two hundred dollars it took to end the life in her womb. I thought I was solving a problem, keeping our secret. But the cold reality of what I’d done seeped into my soul like the clammy chill coming through the concrete and into my bones. I paid the doctor to kill our son.

How could I have done that? How could I not see? Evil veiled itself in those days. “It’s just a blob of cells,” they said. But I knew it was wrong. I could feel it.

Little did I know, in 1977, that we were only grains of sand in the mammoth cultural landslide that was the sexual revolution. Free love never was victimless. Roe V. Wade, that revolution’s most significant victory, remains the greatest bloodbath in history, 60 million aborted Americans, with the longest trail of traumatized survivors, 120 million moms and dads.

Time moved on, and so did I until about a decade later, when my first child was born. Something clicked, a window opened, and I began to see. Life is precious! I should have taken the blow, not the girl. Not the child. I should have taken the guilt and shame with her and provided for them both. That is what my father would have done. That is when I started attending the annual pro-life march downtown on January 22nd. It was the least I could do, the only thing I knew to do besides giving to crisis pregnancy centers and advocating for life in the pulpit and print.

It wasn’t enough. At least, it hasn’t been so far. The Pro-Choice propaganda political action machine continues promoting the Big Lie that it is all about reproductive rights and the mother’s health. It is celebrating victory again today when Planned Parenthood’s chief political proponents—the non-profit donated $45 million to the victorious party—will be sworn in as president and vice president of the United States.

Instead of judgment, God gave me a cleansed conscience, a beautiful wife, and three beautiful daughters. Then, in my forties, a young man walked into my life. Energetic, intelligent, eager to serve alongside and be mentored. It took a while because I was so busy with family and work, but it finally clicked. Another window opened. “The timing is about right,” I thought. “This could be my son.” A strange wave of grief and gratitude washed over me. “God, you are so good to me. I don’t deserve this privilege, but I accept it as a gift from your hand.” Many more surrogate “sons” have come and gone since. Slowly the wound has healed.

Perhaps you are one of those men. You gave up a child and her mother to an abortion. You walked away, but you never forgot. You know what you did, and it gnaws at your soul. I can confidently tell you God’s grace extends to you. Reach out to him. Tell him what you did. Ask him to forgive you, to set you free from guilt, and to rebuild your heart. I tell you confidently, and in the name of Jesus Christ, that is a prayer that he will answer.

EASTER: ALL ABOUT GRACE

We are uncomfortable with grace. We cannot get our minds around it, or adjust our feelings to it. It upends our inner scale of justice because most of us live under the merit system.

A murderer gets the death penalty and we’re okay with that. It makes sense to us. We resonate with reward, and punishment. Do good, work hard, keep your nose clean, and you will be rewarded. Be selfish, be mean, be slack, be criminal, and you get what you deserve.

But deserve and reward are words that have no meaning under grace. That is the scandal –- even a Timothy McVeigh can receive a full pardon from God.

“For the wages of sin is death. But the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.” Death is something we earn. Life is a gift.

If you have trouble absorbing that, consider these three thoughts.

Grace Is Costly

Justice was done. Sin was paid for but not by us. “He made him who knew no sin to be sin for us.” (2 Cor. 5:21).

In the film The Last Emperor, a young child anointed as the last emperor of China lives a magical life of luxury with a thousand eunuch servants at his command.

“What happens when you do wrong?” asks his brother.

“When I do wrong, someone else is punished,” the boy king answers. To demonstrate, he shatters a jar, and one of his servants is beaten.

God reversed that pattern. When the servants sinned, the king was punished. Grace is free only because the giver has born all the cost.

Grace Is Extravagant 

Think of the parable Jesus told about the lost sheep (See Luke15). The shepherd leaves the ninety-nine in the open country, vulnerable to theft, wolves, and wandering, to find the one, and then celebrates with friends.

That’s extravagant.

I would say, “Miserable little ingrate sheep. Let him wander. Wolves would do me a favor if they ate him.” But not God. God’s grace is extravagant.

Grace is Overwhelming

Some of us have done things that we are ashamed to admit, and some of us have done things–violent things, cruel things, and heartless things–that, in the clear light of day, horrify us. Not only would we never tell someone else about them, we can hardly tell ourselves. Some of us still find ourselves, long after putting faith in Christ, doing things we regret deeply and cannot explain.

The Apostle Paul was like that. He confessed, “Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the worst,” and “ … I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing … What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!”[1]

That same grace — God’s Amazing Grace — is here, now, offered to us. The resurrection proved that it is true. That is why we celebrate Easter.

[1] 1 Timothy 1:15; Romans 7:18-19, 24-25.

BAGPIPE BLESSINGS

Fog deep and cool shrouded the road and the massive, borrowed 1975 Lincoln Continental that we drove down the mountain. It was the morning of our marriage, a day or two into our honeymoon near Banner Elk, North Carolina. I could barely see past the hood ornament, doing my best to follow the yellow lines a few feet at a time, wondering if I should turn around.

That’s when we heard the music; bagpipes? Yes, unmistakably, bagpipes, the sound rising from the mists, enchanted. We could not see the player until we were almost on top of her, the fog and the switchbacks conspiring to keep the young lass from view until suddenly; there she stood on a small rise, in front of an old stone church barely visible, surrounded by tombstones, blowing a blessing on us. The road curved again and just as suddenly she was gone, the notes of Amazing Grace trailing after our tail lights.

We looked at each other and smiled in awe and wonder at the sweetness, that God would give us such a gift on such a day.

Many days have passed with many mountains sweet and valleys bitter, between that one and this and I see that drive as a metaphor. Life unwinds before us, a mountain road in the morning mists. We get glimpses here and there of the highlands and of cool meadows near rushing streams, feel the blessing of those things, and are drawn by them to take the journey. But mostly, like the lass on the hill, they show up unexpected; bagpipe blessings blowing in the breeze. We cannot see beyond the hood ornament, we do not know what waits around the next bend.

Live long enough and we will meet with bitter disappointments, hurts too deep to bear. If we had known they were coming, we would have turned around, never taken that road. Having retreated, however, we would have missed the bagpipe blessings, the sweet things hiding in the morning mists.

The lessons? Never fear the fog, to live the life God has called you to, to take the journey into the unknown even when you cannot see past the hood ornament. Never linger in the bitter curves, the painful unexpected turns of life. Keep moving, keep trusting, and keep listening, for you do not know what blessings lay hidden in the mists.

We found that little stone church again last week on our vacation. Thirty-two years, many mountains and valleys later, we remain blessed by God, enchanted by grace, and following his road. May he give us thirty-two more.