“Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.” Psalm 127:3-5
Have you ever gotten an invitation that you did not want to open because you knew who it was from, and to open it would disqualify you from being able to use all of your typical excuses to get out of the obligation of attending the event?
What if the invitation was from God? And what if the invitation represented a culmination of everything that you had tried to hide for most of your adult life? What if you knew that your reaction to that invitation would change, not only the way that you view yourself for the rest of your life, but also the way you view God? Like a divine confrontation waiting to pick a fight, it had come for you and you knew that God had found your deepest and darkest hiding place. Until now, most of His invitations for me had been irresistible, like when He would call me away to take a break in my day as a busy wife and mom to come worship Him and just sit in His presence for a while. And sometimes the invitations came in the form of a feeling, like a bubble of pain or joy welling up in my heart in a place that only He can see. Time and obligations always beckon me to shove it down just a little longer, but Jesus always came for me and rest my head on His heart until the tears pour down like rain, washing the wall between my heart and His away. His heart would overtake mine and, for too brief a moment, I was enveloped in nothing less than the knowledge that I am deeply loved by God.
This invitation is different, it calls me to go to a place that I fear I may never emerge from, and even if I do, who will I be? Like Lazarus being asked to go back into the grave, Christ is asking me to go back to that place where I already rolled the stone, blocking myself from any form of re-entry. My voice takes over and declares, “I have already been forgiven for that.” And I hear Him echo His reply, “yes, but you have not been redeemed.”
So often I feel like a bird that forgets how to fly. The very thing that sets me apart from experiencing something different from the rest of mankind seems to be the very thing that I often struggle with knowing how to do. Even if I wanted to go back into that grave, I don’t know how to force my feet to move in that direction. All I can do is cry out for Him to carry me to a place where His love for me overtakes my fear.
I am so afraid of what I might encounter in that grave, so afraid to look upon those three little faces and let them become real to me, knowing that I am the one who placed them in the grave, I am the one who took their lives from them. I am the one who decided that my life was more important than theirs. What happens when Christ asks you to enter the grave as a woman who chose abortion, three times nonetheless, and you know that, if you make it out alive, it will be as their mother-the mother of the babies she aborted.
The smell of the grave cloths overwhelms me and makes me sick. I shudder at the thought that their little bodies where probably thrown out as trash, in a garbage bag, and burned. In human terms, they are no more than ashes now. And His voice breaks through again, “…to comfort all who mourn in Zion-to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes…”(Isaiah 61:3). What man saw as waste, God saw as precious and even sacred. My heart is overwhelmed with the realization that, it was not them He felt sorry for on those three fateful days, it was me. I was the one He wept for; I was the one He interceded for. I was the one who continually allowed myself to sink deeper and deeper into the cement of death; I was the one who was aborting His invitations to Life. Three times I denied Him, and now, I hear Him calling out to me the third time, “do you love Me?” And I know what his question means. His question searches me and shows me the truth about myself, the truth that maybe I don’t love Him as much as I thought I did. Certainly, there are parts if myself that I would rather hide from than bring into His light. This is my moment of truth. I am faced with this confrontation. What do we do when He asks us to follow Him into the places of our deepest shame and fear? I am afraid, yet I feel my feet moving toward him. “Where else can go, for He holds the words of Life.” Jesus, please let there be life on the other side of this. I have accepted His invitation.