How many times have you said, typed, or thought that phrase?
I have three kids, the youngest of which was a complete surprise. After enduring my daughter’s first year, my husband and I weren’t really sure that we even wanted more kids. Millie was a difficult baby. She’s physically and mentally well, but she’s as strong-willed as they come; she always has been. I can think back to moments in my pregnancy with her when I just felt her personality. And when my doctor estimated her due date as January 1, 2014, I just knew she would come on Christmas Day, because that was the ONE day I did not want her birthday to fall on. Sure enough, on Christmas morning 2013, I went into labor, and just a few short hours later, Millie was in my arms.
But the girl did. not. sleep. She managed to make it through pretty much every day of her first year off a 15-minute mid-morning nap. Ugh! My eyes hurt just THINKING about that! And when she was not sleeping, she was crying and/or projectile vomiting.
I give that backstory to say that by her 15th month, she was finally sleeping solidly through the nights, consistently napping in her bed every day, and giggling more than crying. I finally felt like I could just breathe and enjoy my time with her and her older brother. But one afternoon, I didn’t feel well. And the next day, I still didn’t feel well. Four days into whatever I thought I had, my sister suggested, “Maybe you’re pregnant.”
I laughed it off. But when I woke up the next morning and put on a pot of coffee, the smell of it struck me the same disgusting way I remember receiving it when I was carrying Millie. My husband wouldn’t believe it, and I’m ashamed to think back on the darkness of my thoughts during those first several months. I dreaded the prospect of being sick, then not sleeping again for who knew how long. I also felt like I was missing Mason’s childhood and that Millie would grow up feeling like the forgotten middle child. And I even remember asking Ray if he thought our marriage could handle another baby like Millie.
But the thing is I actually wanted to have more kids … someday. That fact, though -- along with the fact that I’m blessed to have a job and to be married to a hardworking, God-fearing man – was silenced by my unfounded depression. And it was then that I actually found myself thinking, “If I’m this freaked out about bringing another baby into the world, how much more freaked out might a single and pregnant teenager be?”
Now Ezra is here, and I can’t bear the thoughts I once entertained against him. I love him so much, and he has already fought his little way through so many things that I just know God has a purpose for him. It gives me chills to think about the souls that might be in heaven someday because of the influence the Lord has granted my little boy.
My children make my life more complicated, sometimes more difficult, and always less prosperous (by the world’s standards) than it was before. But they are completely blessings. I know that even after I’ve had the worst day with them, my life is SO much better with them in it. But sometimes the weight of it all just consumes me in the most terrifying way.
I pray every single day that my children will be saved as soon as they understand what it means to be saved, and I pray that they will truly love and fear God as they grow and serve Him. But I know there’s a very real possibility that that may not be the case. We are fed so many non-truths by the enemy, our flesh, the people, and the world around us that it’s easy for the one Truth to be drowned out or cast aside and forgotten. The weight of those non-truths pounding at our door and slithering into every crevice of our household – that is what is so heavy. The thought that I could fail to be an effective shepherd to the kids God has entrusted me with – that is what is so heavy. And the prospect that I could spend an eternity separated from them – that is the heaviest of all.
So, lately I’ve been considering the words Jesus spoke just before Judas betrayed Him and just before He was crucified:
“The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” –Matthew 26:24
And that’s gotten me thinking about the issue of life. I realize this passage could be used for the pro-abortion side of the argument. I believe that when a baby or a young child dies, he or she goes to heaven, and I believe this is supported in Scripture -- like in II Samuel 12:23, when David and Bathsheba lose their child and David says, “He cannot come to me, but I shall go to him.”
But if a pre-born baby definitely gets to go to heaven, wouldn’t it be better to send him/her there for sure than it would be to bring the child into the world, where he/she may not choose the narrow path paved by Jesus, the only path that leads to heaven?
I struggle with this. If this is really the case that I believe it to be, and if I want all people to go to heaven, then honestly, why am I so pro-birth?
But then I consider God as He created the world and everything in it – including us. He is all-knowing, so He knew before He created Adam and Eve that throughout earth’s time, more people were destined for hell than for heaven (Matthew 7:13). Even so, He spoke us into existence and has preserved mankind ever since, watching countless souls choose everything else over Him. I don’t know His thoughts, but I think He weighed the cost, and because of His desire for relationship with us, He chose life.
If nothing else, this contemplation has solidified my belief that God created us with free choice. I mentioned before that He created us knowing that more people were destined for hell rather than heaven, but that’s different than Him predestining more people for hell than for heaven. Being in any sort of relationship with someone who wants to be in that relationship is far more rewarding than being in a relationship with someone who is forced to be there.
God speaks often in His Word about our rewards in heaven. To list a few:
“For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds.” –Matthew 16:27
“Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor.” –1 Corinthians 3:8
“Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” –2 Corinthians 9:6
All of these passages, plus many others, support the thought that those who choose to love God and direct others to Him have an abundant life to look forward to with the treasures they have stored up in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21). So while I believe aborted and stillborn children do get to go to heaven, those children are not given the chance to choose the Truth over all of the lies; they are not given the chance to choose to tell others about Him and what He has done for them. They do not have the chance to reap the reward of choosing God over everything else in this life. They do not have the chance to build up their rewards in heaven.
Make no mistake; a forever with Jesus is the ultimate reward. And for someone who doesn’t really care about prizes and any sort of earthly reward that I can think of, no crown or mansion seems comparable to an eternity with Jesus; an automatic ticket to that prize seems like the best deal out there. But what about everywhere in the Bible that talks about those who are persecuted for His sake? 2 Timothy 3:12 warns us that “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” And then there’s this from Matthew 5:10-12:
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great...”
Paul implores Timothy to preach the Word, to always be sober-minded, and to fulfill his ministry (2 Timothy 4). He writes that he has fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith, and he tells Timothy, “Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, with the Lord, the righteous judge, will award me.”
I believe that if God took the time to mention our receiving rewards according to our labor and His repaying us according to our deeds, it must be worth all of the trouble He’s gone through to make it possible for us to receive that/those thing(s).
As I typed this (long-winded) blog, I instructed Mason and Millie to help each other clean up a mess they made in Millie’s room, and I told them they’d get a prize when they were done. Mason immediately went to work, while Millie moseyed to the mess. Mason soon bounced up to me to report that he was almost done by the time Millie came along, but he told her to put the last stuffed animal away because “I wanted Millie to get a prize, too.”
Millie’s getting a cookie didn’t take away from Mason’s cookie. In fact, his prize (two cookies) was greater because of his desire for his sister to share in his reward. Similarly, we should want everyone to share in our heavenly reward. The greatest prize I can imagine is spending eternity with the people I love in this world (which should be everyone, according to Scripture). Their reward adds to mine.
So I am pro-birth because I am pro-life, and I am pro-life because God is, and He is pro-abundant life. God doesn’t create life just for the sake of destroying it; He is all good and completely just, so wouldn’t doing so go against His character? Who are we to decide that the life He knits together doesn’t deserve the chance to fight “the good fight” and minister to everyone else for whom Jesus died, building up their treasures in heaven? And who are we to eliminate the influence God grants to those lives, possibly destroying someone's chance to join our Savior in heaven someday?
I feel like many believers really need to think about our purpose this side of heaven. Eternity is a long time. So when a child's mother chooses life, the work isn’t finished. Our families, our friends, and the people we encounter everywhere we go are placed in our path for a reason. What you’re sowing now is important because it could be abundantly life-changing.