After quite a few years of attending our local chapter of Lutherans for Life annual dessert banquet, this year, I was asked to be keynote speaker. Always impressed by their speakers and passion, I felt honored to have a chance to share what I might about the topic, “Speaking Up for Life — Every One of Us.”
I had some stories to share, about my own pro-life journey, and about how the soil for my current pro-life passion had been laid in my childhood by both my parents’ embrace of life, and the dignity they seemed to feel was owed to those around them, whether young or old, rich or poor.
I brought this into my life as an adult and it has grown into something more than I could have anticipated, but it fuels so much of what I do in one way or another. Embracing five children also has something to do with it; losing one in miscarriage, another; and having friends who have been through the trauma of abortion has brought me more squarely into the middle of this battle for life.
The event was worked around the scheduled Vikings-Packers game, but the game was changed to the same time as the event when it was too late to reverse, and the conundrum for the local fans of these two teams was whether their commitment would be wider for life, or football.
I was happy to see quite a few come out to support life, knowing that football would come and go, but that the issue at the crux of my talk is truly something with eternal consequences.
I have no photos to share from the event, but I wanted to share a moment that will be forever etched into my heart.
I’d decided at one point in writing my talk that I wanted to either sing, or just read, a verse from the song, “Here I Am, Lord.” It just seemed appropriate, and I have always loved singing it. Would I have the courage to sing? Or go the easier route and just read it?
As the time in my talk came to decide, I chose to be brave. After all, my whole talk was about being courageous. I had to practice what I was preaching. And so I began singing.
What followed was not something I had anticipated. As I sang, everyone began joining in. By the end of the verse, the room was filled with wonderful voices from all directions; voices of God’s children responding, saying, “Yes, Lord, it is I. I have heard you calling in the night. I will go, Lord, if you lead me…” It delighted me something great! I was so surprised that rather than pausing after the verse was finished as I probably should have, I just sort of continued on with the rest of my talk. But later, in thinking on the whole afternoon, I realized that that was the moment; the one that definitely stands out, and always will, and one that deserves a pause, now if nothing else.
That moment, my lone voice was joined by many. I heard the Christian community saying, “We are with you. And not only that, we will stand with you.” It was incredible.
And now, I will have that image forever. If I ever feel alone, that I am small and without the courage to move out of my comfort zone, all I have to do is think back to that afternoon in a Lutheran church in Fargo, to the moment when I discovered that I was far from alone; when I realized, without a doubt, that God was with me, and his people were, too.
Thank you, Lord, for showing me that I am never alone. Thank you, to the Christian community in our area, for shining yours lights up at me to remind me that the Body of Christ is all of us, together, and that we need each other, every day.
As many will be doing, I’m heading into a week of gathering with friends and family and cherishing the life that we’ve been given, and are privileged to celebrate. May God bless all of you and keep you safe.
My Thanksgiving gift to you: “Here I Am,” by John Michael Talbot.