It will be rather obvious, I think, that I first published this post several months ago. I revisit it here with a twofold purpose. First, January is typically when many pregnancy centers, ours included, seek to increase awareness of their work and ministry. With the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade this month, I encourage you to support a local center either by a monetary donation or with much needed diapers and clothes and wipes. These sorts of resources are the cup of cold water we offer in Jesus' name, vehicles for the proclamation of the gospel.
My second purpose in this post is to encourage you this new year to make plans to purposefully place yourself in the path of someone very different from yourself. Serve someone in the name of Jesus. Volunteer at a school, teach an immigrant English, coach a soccer team, go on a mission trip. What I want for you and for me is a wide angled view of the Lord's heart for the least of these and to know afresh the power of the gospel to save.
Experiences such as the one I attempt to articulate here provide much needed clarity and perspective. In the counseling room my opinions on Santa Claus or school choice or eschatology mean very little to the woman in desperate need of diapers and the gospel. This new year, let's you and me make war on our myopia. Let's step outside our comfort zone and find the humbling, exhilarating, priority-altering joy of gospel declaration...
I am gathering my things in preparation to head home in a few minutes' time. It's been a slow morning at the Crisis Pregnancy Center in terms of clients but a busy one in terms of administrative tasks like putting together a bulk mailing to local churches and counting monies from our Baby Bottle fundraiser.
The front door dings as two young women enter, each carrying a baby, both little ones wide eyed and solemn, their moms not less so. I greet them with a smile and ask how I can help.
Do you do pregnancy tests? one of the women asks me, a nod of her head and a glance of her eyes indicating her companion. After the requisite forms had been filled out and pertinent information gathered, I take her back, the woman wanting the pregnancy test, I show her the bathroom and where to leave the cup, and then I watch her baby, all smiles and gurgles on the sofa in front.
I chat with the friend.
We're both of us from the domestic violence shelter, the friend tells me. I give the baby another smile as my heart breaks just a little. So sweet, the babies and the women both. What horrors have they endured? I can only wonder.
After checking the test, I tell the woman what she's already suspected. She is pregnant. Tears fill her eyes and she looks up, toward the ceiling, and in her broken English whispers, oh God. Not a curse, a petition. She sighs and holds her baby close, kissing the top of its head. She didn't want to be pregnant she tells me. But, yes, she will keep the baby. Of course she wants her baby. God is good, she says. He knows. No, the father will not be involved she states with a shake of her head and is it fear or relief I see in her eyes?
I tell her we can help. Maternity clothes, diapers, baby clothes. We will help. Please, let us help. And I want to tell them to take care of themselves, of their babies, that they did right to get out and to get away and that the Lord sees and knows and hears and rescues. He does. He promises. He must.
I give them both some diapers and some baby food. I pat the babies on their backs. I tell the women the good news, the best news, that Jesus saves. Trust Him, I urge. They nod. I know God, she tells me. I am glad. She will need Him. I hug them. I walk them to the door. Please, let us help you, I say again. We can help you, both of you. They thank me graciously, humbly, and with dignity.
I get my purse. I drive home. I reply to email. I eat a piece of chocolate. I check my Twitter feed and there I read of various lunch plans and of the latest fashion trends and of the presidential candidates' differing agendas and of links to all sorts of blog posts on everything from decorating to doctrine. I read about a rich pop star dying in her bath tub and about laments and indictments over one pastor calling another pastor's critics heretics and where oh where is the proof of such accusation? And I think to myself how inane, not that politics is unimportant nor that heresy, real or perceived, ought not be confronted or decried, but oh so much drama and yet those two women have never even heard of modalism or panentheism nor do they speculate on the cause of Whitney's death and of what importance is fashion when you are pregnant and living in a shelter with your baby and several other moms and children and babies? Not even a room to yourself not to mention the basic, and greater, needs of safety and shelter and security.
I think to myself how easily I am insulated from and inoculated against such tragedies. I am blind to much, most, of the heartache that surrounds me. Sometimes I choose my blindness and when I do see I often despair of my inability to even glance the surface of such gaping need. What are diapers and jars of baby food when one has no home, no job, and no security?
Oh, I claim to love the gospel--and I do, indeed I do--but sometimes I more adept at dissecting it and defending it and denigrating those who disagree with it than declaring it. In my selfishness I forget its glorious truth: Jesus saves. What other hope do my two new friends have? What hope do I? If Jesus does not save, then I am lost. Dead and desperate, doomed in my sins and transgressions, I need saving. Sin is my biggest problem and salvation is my biggest need. Same for you, same for us all, same for these two women. How much, how desperately, they need hope, hope that sustains and strengthens, hope that extends beyond their present circumstance, hope that points to peace and joy.
And how will they know unless they are told? Faith, hope, comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ. This is the glorious mystery that is our privilege to believe and to proclaim: Christ in you, the hope of glory.
To my shame I confess I sometimes ignore the real world in which they live, these two precious, battered women and their babies, preferring instead the assumed safety and security not just of social media but of my self righteous smugness. I forget both the good news that Jesus saves and that there are many--hundreds, thousands, millions even--who are desperate and dying apart from this, the hope of salvation found in Jesus Christ.
Author's note: We at the crisis pregnancy center where I volunteer affirm our clients' rights to privacy and it is with this commitment in mind that I have deliberately altered or even deleted pertinent details in this post in order to keep my clients' anonymity intact.