The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.
“I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse;and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran. (Genesis 12:1-4)
Concerning Abram leaving his home, there is much we are not told. How did Abram receive this news? Did he seek to have the Lord change his mind (as he did in Genesis 18)? Did he go eagerly? How did Sarah respond when, hearing that she be leaving her home and asking him where they would go, she heard, “I don’t know.” What about the rest of Abram’s family? And why did Lot decide to go with him?
On the other hand, Abram is told a lot. The Lord told Abram that He would show him the land eventually, presumably at the appropriate time. He is told that the Lord would make him a great nation, that the Lord would bless him, and that he would be a blessing. The Lord told Abram that He would protect him—blessing those who bless him and cursing those who curse him. In other words, the Lord promised to care for Abram and use him to bless others as he embarked upon a journey fraught with unknowns.
In some ways, Abram’s lot isn’t much different from ours, for the Lord seldom allows us see very far ahead. When the prophet Isaiah said “Here am I, send me!” he had no idea where or to whom the Lord would send him. The disciples were not told where Jesus was going when Jesus called to them “follow me.” Mary was told that she would bear a child, the Son of the Most High, but she wasn’t told how all this would work out. What would everyone think? Most especially, Joseph? And, yet, the promise for all, whether implied or explicit, was the same: “I am with you.”
All this is worth remembering, particularly for those involved in pro-life work. For a mother carrying an unexpected (and perhaps unwanted) child, the road ahead is often not clear at all. Often it is very scary. Trying to re-envision life with a child, which may mean giving up a dream or significantly changing course, is scary, particularly if a mother is alone. How those most important to her will react is often unknown, and scary. Figuring out how to raise a child, or to give him to another, is scary. For many, abortion seems the least scary road, because it often seems that it leads to a place more clear and certain, and without all of the scary unknowns above. Whether or not that is true in the end is beside the point—that is often how it appears.
Our plea to a woman fearful and pregnant is to trust God. Yes, that includes being available to help in whatever way possible (and in recognition that there are ways in which we won’t be able to help). But in the end, we are asking her to trust God. That is no small matter. And yet, doesn’t God call us to the same? The call to follow Jesus, whether given to the disciple Peter or given to you or me, is a call to trust, and often when the road ahead is unclear. And I suspect that the call for a pregnant and fearful woman to trust God, whether given by friend to friend, counselor to client, mother to daughter, teacher to student, or however it is given, will be given with greater weight and received with greater openness if it is given by one who, like Abram or Sarah, knows something of what it means to trust God personally. Especially when it is scary.
As women face unplanned pregnancies, place people in their lives that love You and Your gift of Life. Bring them family members and friends who will encourage them to chose Life. Direct them away from abortion clinics and to pregnancy centers. Connect these women in need to churches who will care and support them. Give them the courage to chose life and the resources to provide for their children. In Your Name we pray, Amen.
This week’s reflection has been written by Anglicans for Life’s Board Member, the Rev. Dr. W. Ross Blackburn. Rev. Blackburn is the Rector of Christ the King, an Anglican Fellowship in Boone, NC.