Have you ever wondered why God gave us the gift of free will? After all, if it wasn’t for that, we would all still be enjoying Eden together, no fig leaves needed. Everyone likes the concept of free will. We love making our own choices. There is a sense of pride that comes when we make a choice and that choice proves to be a really great one! Given the option, most of us wouldn’t give up this gift of free will. So what do we do when someone else’s free will negatively effects our life or the life of someone we care about? What do we do with heartache over how someone else decided to exercise their free will? I was faced with this reality when it came to my friend Abby.
She Couldn’t Hear Me
“Can you hear me, Abby? Whew! We finally get to connect on the phone!” We had been texting back and forth all morning, this young woman and I. Her pastor had called me asking me to connect with Abby as she had just found out she was pregnant and had questions about abortion. As she and I got to know each other over the phone, she related that her boyfriend was demanding she abort her baby or find another place to live. She didn’t like the idea of abortion but felt it was her only option. The only kicker was the response she was getting from her friends at church – the ones who had stood by her at her recent baptism- the ones who weren’t in favor of abortion. So, when Abby and I connected on the phone she had one question; “What does God think about abortion?”
What a privilege I had just been given to pour God’s truth about life into Abby. I left nothing unsaid, citing Scripture and praying with her. I even shared my own story of brokenness after abortion, followed by Jesus’ transforming grace. Our MyChoice Clinic team and her friends at church poured similar care into Abby. A church friend even invited Abby to live with her through the pregnancy. It was a united effort by God’s people to help Abby choose life for her baby, yet in the end it could not break through her fear. I will never forget our last correspondence. It was a text from the procedure room of the local abortion clinic telling me she was going through with the abortion. My desperate texts and phone calls in those moments went unanswered. She was exercising her gift of free will, and I had to respect her choice.
The Heartbreak I Didn’t See Coming
The grief took me by surprise. I realized that I was living out what our nurses and advocates experience almost daily through their work in our MyChoice Clinic – the heart-break of releasing clients to their decisions, even when those decisions don’t line up with God’s heart for life. In the days following Abby’s choice, I wrestled with whether I had done enough, said enough or said too much. I wrestled with grief over the loss of her baby; fear for her fledgling Christianity (I know first-hand how the guilt of an abortion can derail a person’s faith); pride as the pastor who could not change Abby’s mind.
In my wrestle I sensed the Lord speak to me, “She couldn’t hear you.” That quiet word from Jesus reminded me that there was a louder voice screaming in Abby’s ears highlighting all the reasons she could not have a baby. The father of lies had stolen the truth from Abby’s ears and convinced her she should use her free will to abort her baby. Sixty million times a year this same scenario plays out in other “Abby’s” worldwide as the enemy of life blocks the truth that their unborn baby is a whole, human being created in God’s image and that God Himself can make a way for birth, adoption or parenting no matter the circumstance. This truth never penetrated Abby’s ears. She was deaf to it.
The Power of One Word
The realization that Abby couldn’t hear me did nothing to comfort my heart until I remembered the following story from Mark 7:31-37. In it a man who was deaf and mute was brought to Jesus. No sound could reach this man’s ears, nor could he speak. Jesus, in His mercy, took the man aside, and touched the man’s tongue and ears…
The man’s ears were opened and his tongue was released! The Lord spoke “Ephphatha” – translated to mean “be opened”- and it was so. One word from the Lord released a man from the bondage of deafness. He could now hear the voice of His Savior.
What if those walking in our doors at our MyChoice Clinics heard Jesus’ voice instead of the enemy’s lies? How would it look if our exertion of free will was led by the truth of our Savior instead of the lies of our Enemy? What if our clients knew the touch of their Savior? What if they knew the power of His love as He opened their ears and loosened their tongues to agree with His truth?
It’s not just a novel idea, it is a reality we see often here at Life Services. Often times, compassionate love, prayer and practical care break through the lies and open a client’s ears to the fact that Jesus loves her AND the life she is carrying. Over and over we see Jesus give young women the courage to speak life over their babies and trust Him for the “how” in their circumstance. Over and over we see client’s free will align with God’s will. I wish that we got to see ears “be opened” and tongues released to His truth with every client. But just as Jesus does with each of us, we release our clients fully to their gift of free will – to hear God’s truth and walk in it… or not.
How do we respond?
Our response to free will is to pray. We rely fully on the Holy Spirit to change hearts and minds for the Lord. Everyday we pray before all our appointments. We know it’s the whisper of the great Counselor that can break the stronghold of fear these ladies are facing. Everyday we pray after each appointment. We pray that our Lord protects our clients and continues to nudge their heart toward life for the pre-born. And yes, we pray before, during and after an abortion appointment. We pray that our clients would reach out to us, and feel God’s love no matter what choice they make. Our biggest prayer is that they would return to us to seek healing through our post-abortion care network.
We covet your prayers and your support as we continue to respect the free will of others. We feel blessed to be able to communicate God’s truth about life to them. Please join us in prayerfully declaring “Ephphatha” over our country, community and our Life Service’s clients that the pre-born would be supported, protected and allowed to live the lives on earth that God created them for. Pray for our clients, that they would use their gift of free will to choose life for their pre-born children. And may we have ears that are open to His voice as His truth rolls off our tongue.
Blessed to stand for life with each of you,