January 25, 2015

The Path Home


Never in her life had she been so terrified.  So paralyzed by fear that even the simple task of breathing in and out seemed suddenly so difficult that it required her undivided attention.  Her ears barely registered the bird singing in the branch overhead or the cars speeding by on the busy street nearby.  The weeds in the cracks of the sidewalk went unnoticed.   All she could see was the little white building with a faded pink sign that included the words “woman” and “choice.”  She asked herself, How on earth did a good girl like me end up at a place like this?

The story wasn’t supposed to happen this way.  She had thought for sure that it was a romantic love story that would end in happily ever after.  Her beloved had given her true love’s kiss, and had assured her of his commitment.  He was going to carry her off into the sunset.  Into a future bright and full of promise.

But the promises had been shattered, right along with her heart.  Her true love was gone, leaving her with a houseful of small children to raise alone.  Adding another one to the mess simply was not an option. 

So here she was, walking towards the little white building with the faded pink sign, scarcely able to believe that it was really happening.  That her story was going to end in death – not only the death of the heartbeat growing inside her, but also the death of her innocence and naiveté.  The death of a dream.


She had been so distracted by her fear and despair, that she failed to notice the woman who was approaching her.  A nicely dressed older woman, carrying a book and some brochures.  The woman was suddenly walking next to her, and when she felt the gentle touch on her arm, she jolted in surprise.   Do you mind if I talk to you for a minute, asked the woman politely?  I’d like to ask you some questions.  Not sure of how to respond, and maybe even a little relieved to delay the inevitable door of no return, to delay facing what she dreaded to do, she stopped and stared at the woman standing next to her.  She could think of nothing to say, and so she stood there staring.  Waiting.

Can you tell me why you are here, asked the older woman, genuinely interested.  She exhaled sharply, not realizing that she had been holding her breath.   Suddenly the story came pouring out along with her tears, the words barely coherent, even to herself.  The love, the broken promises, the heart-break, the children at home, the tragic choice she was about to make.

Oh, my dear, my dear, soothed the older woman, wrapping her arms around her and patting her softly on her back.  May I tell you about the One who loves you and will never leave you?  The One who is able to heal your past?  Who will be with you and guide you wherever you go?

For the first time in her life, she heard words of Truth and Life.  She heard about a love so unimaginable that it made her wonder, can it be real?  Can it really be true that God loves me so much that He sent His Son to die for me?  That I can be forgiven?  The message was balm to her anguish and desperation, the exact words that her burdened heart needed to hear.  Words that filled her with hope!


Sin can be so messy.  Imperfect people living in an unkind world sometimes choose non-ideal paths.  The sin may be forgiven and the guilty heart may be cleansed and made new, but the consequences remain.  The subsequent chaos and complications from those sinful decisions may not be so easily repaired.

So now what? Her burdened heart was set free by God’s grace, true, but her challenging circumstances had not changed. Every day was a struggle to provide for her children.  With each passing week her mid-section grew larger, making it more and more difficult to stand for the long hours that her job required.  She was just barely holding on, desperate in her attempts to keep her struggling family together.  She had made the incredibly courageous choice to give life to her unborn child, and now all of her children were in imminent danger of being taking into protective custody by social workers.  Her mind was filled with constant doubts:  Had she made the right choice?  Her heart was filled with constant fear:  What was going to happen to her and her children?  Her spirit was filled with constant prayer:  God, please help me!

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to her, a family on the other side of town heard about this young mother’s plight and her great need.  Although they had never met her, the wife thought, We have a home with extra bedrooms.  Sure, it would be tight, and our own children would have to squeeze in together, but maybe we should offer her a few of our bedrooms.  When her husband asked, Honey, what do you think about allowing this young mother and her children to stay with us for a few weeks?, they knew that it had already been decided.  The Lord was calling them to share their home.  Because of their incredible generosity, the children would be able to stay with their mother.  They would not be orphaned.  This struggling young mother and her family had found safety. 


Few things in life are more beautiful than the Church, the body of Christ, each member demonstrating the love of God by using his or her gifts to serve one another. 

A woman using her compassion and courage to rescue, not only the life of an unborn baby, but the eternal life of the mother. 

A family using their hospitality and generosity to protect a family and keep it intact.

Many, many individuals using their time and energy, talents and abilities to serve and lighten the load.  Delivering meals.  Driving to school and medical appointments.  Scheduling meetings with attorneys and government officials.  Purchasing brand new jackets for the children when the weather turned cold.  So many acts of kindness lavished onto this struggling young woman and her precious children.  Never in her life had she experienced, never before had she been the recipient of such an outpouring of love!


The weeks unexpectedly turned into months.  Nerves were stretched thin and frayed.  The noise level of so many kids in one household tried the patience to the limit.  Accidental spills stained the carpet, little hands found stray markers that damaged the walls, the overworked washing machine strained day and night to keep up with so much laundry.  Countless hours of time, countless gallons of gas, countless personal expense.  But still the people of God persevered, never once wavering in their commitment to show God’s love to this woman and her children.

Finally, in God’s always-perfect timing, they were able to move into a house of their very own just a few days before Christmas – a little house furnished and outfitted with donated furniture, linens, and much-needed household items. 

From the very first encounter with this young woman on the path of death, and through the difficulties and struggles and sacrifices that followed, God used His people to be His hands, serving with generosity and love.  And because of their faithfulness, a life had been spared.  A soul had been saved.  A family had remained intact, and the children would not be orphaned.  Because so many people were willing to walk this path alongside her;  because their eyes were opened to see her great need; because of their obedience to God’s call to care for “the least of these” . . . she found hope.  She found a new life in Christ.  She found the path home.

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