This morning, when a friend showed up to pray at our state’s lone abortion facility, she noted something different: Jesus’ name had been added to the sidewalk chalk art. I’m assuming the idea was to connect it with the word that had been placed there already: “trust.” In other words, replacing “trust women” with “trust Jesus.”
“Trust women.” The abortion industry loves these deflections that pull our attention from reality. By convincing the public that pro-lifers are a bunch of meanies (i.e., “We trust women to make the right decision; you don’t”), their narrative can continue spinning, and the money, flowing. The misguided mantras keep clients dependent on them, and prevent them from listening to the real truth: that they are already mothers, and that that is a gift. In essence, the pro-choice narrative causes women to mistrust themselves and their own, powerful inclinations.
What people of faith know is that we can only trust ourselves to the degree to which we have placed our trust in God. When we acknowledge the divinity of God, and understand we are not on par with the divine, all of life comes into clearer focus. So yes, we do trust women who have immersed themselves in truth. But it is God in whom we place our fullest trust. The God of life. Those who trust him will be led into truth and real freedom.
Every year the slogans appear through chalk art during the 40 Days for Life prayer campaign, applied mostly by abortion supporters. In the past, a few sidewalk prayer advocates have added to the sidewalk “mural.” So I wasn’t 100-percent sure of the source of this morning’s renderings. Had the Red River Women’s Clinic decided to include Jesus’ name? Maybe they wanted to give God honor? Or maybe it was something quite the opposite of that. Perhaps they wanted to mock Jesus? Or, could it be that this was one of those instances in which some pro-life folks felt it important to insert this holy name into the sidewalk alongside the other depictions — some of which have been particularly vulgar this year?
I could only guess, but my friend decided, and I agreed, that having Jesus’ name on the sidewalk could only be a good thing. It is a holy name, a name above all names. To proclaim the name of Jesus sincerely is to honor the God who brings life, love and light to our world. There is power in the name of Jesus.
It wasn’t long, however, before another pictorial report came in.
That powerful name of Jesus, there on the sidewalk in front of our state’s only abortion facility, had been “erased.” Only an echo of the name remained. Regardless of its source, whomever was now “on duty” had found it ill-fitting. And so it had to go. Out came the chalk, up went the sleeves, and out rushed the hands to make the hasty scribbles to block out that powerful name — the name above all names.
Jesus’ name is powerful because it challenges us in every way. Jesus came into this world as a fragile child, in the very same manner that all the tiny children in the wombs of the mothers who arrive on the sidewalk have come — by the hand of God. For even when children are conceived in imperfect circumstances, each is loved, cherished and wanted by God. Not one of God’s creatures can be deemed a mistake. There is none unloved, unwanted, uncherished by the Father. Each of us is God’s work of art.
God made many beautiful things, but above all, the human being is his prized masterpiece. God said we are made in his likeness and image; his holy image. And as such, we are to treat ourselves and each other in that manner: as worthy of holiness.
Today, Jesus was removed from the sidewalk. God was found unfit for such a place. In some ways that makes sense. The work that happens inside this building is anything but holy. And yet, it is God’s world through and through, and he loves all, even those who mock him, who try to erase him, who scribble him out.
It won’t work. The biggest eraser in the world cannot make the name of Jesus and his beautiful power disappear. The largest bucket of water cannot begin to wash away his eternal creations. There is no cloth effective enough to wipe Jesus from the face of the earth, not to mention a small, dark corner in a city of North Dakota. It’s impossible. God is emblazoned on our souls and his love penetrates our being if we allow it, and someday, all will see just how much he has loved us. At the reckoning, every knee will bend at the immensity and depth of his mercy.
A few weeks ago, a friend sent me a message that had come to him through prayer. It regarded the babies who die each week at this abortion facility here in North Dakota:
“Nothing can separate me from my children. Even when their lives are ripped from them, nothing can separate my love from them. Even when they are ripped away from the world, my love overcomes. Even when they are ripped from the womb, they will not be ripped away from my love. They are forever in my love. No man. No society. No law. No doctor. No clinic. Nothing can separate me from my children. I am the Father.”
It brought tears then, and now. Thank you to the friend who shared this with me. May it bring comfort to all who have lost children and other loved ones on this day we celebrate the Feast of All Souls.
In closing, I will say this to those who wish to erase the name of Jesus, or any holy thing, from this world: Keep scrubbing if you must, but it will be a temporary fade. The Lord of Life has great plans, his day of glory is near, and all are invited. It’s not too late to ditch the eraser and come follow the One who makes all things new.
Thank you, Lord, for loving me, and everyone who showed up on the sidewalk this week, without exception. Help them to see, Lord, that you are not disposable, and that you lived, and died, for them, too. Let their hate be replaced with hope, their anger with awe. Use us, Lord, to color your world with love.