I always enjoyed the time I spent with Tom. He had become a leader in his church and his warm and friendly manner had also taken him many steps along the path of business success. He had a lovely wife, and while I knew they had driven over some rocky roads in their marriage, things now seemed to be stable and growing. Tom’s kids, two daughters and a son, were struggling in junior high and high school with the normal problems of peer pressure and acceptance.
As we rode back into the mountains, I could tell that something big was eating away at Tom’s heart. His normal effervescent style was shrouded by an overwhelming inner hurt. Normally, Tom would attack problems with the same determination that had made him a success in business. Now, I saw him wrestling with something that seemed to have knocked him to the mat for the count.
Silence has a way of speaking for itself. All day and on into the evening, Tom let his lack of words shout out his inner restlessness. Finally, around the first night’s campfire, he opened up.
The scenario Tom painted was annoyingly familiar. I’d heard it many times before in many other people’s lives. But the details seemed such a contract to the life that Tom and his wife lived and the beliefs they embraced. His oldest daughter had become attached to a boy at school. Shortly after they started going together, they became sexually involved. Within two months, she was pregnant. Tom’s wife discovered the truth when a packet from Planned Parenthood came in the mail addressed to her daughter. When confronted with it, the girl admitted she had requested it when she went to the clinic to find out if she was pregnant.
If we totaled up the number of girls who have gotten pregnant out of wedlock during the past two hundred years of our nation’s history, the total would be in the millions. Countless parents through the years have faced the devastating news. Being a member of such a large fraternity of history, however, does not soften the severity of the blow to your heart when you discover it’s your daughter.
Tom shared the humiliation he experienced when he realized that all of his teaching and example had been ignored. Years of spiritual training had been thrust aside. His stomach churned as he relived the emotional agony of knowing that the little girl he and his wife loved so much had made a choice that had permanently scarred her heart.
I’m frequently confronted with these problems in my ministry and have found that dwelling on the promiscuous act only makes matters worse. I worship a God of forgiveness and solutions, and at that moment in our conversation I was anxious to turn toward hope and healing.
I asked Tom what they had decided to do. Would they keep the baby, or put it up for adoption? That’s when he delivered the blow. With the fire burning low, Tom paused for a long time before answering. And even when he spoke he wouldn’t look me in the eye. "We considered the alternatives, Tim. Weighed all the options." He took a deep breath. "We finally made an appointment with the abortion clinic. I took her down there myself." I dropped the stick I’d been poking the coals with and stared at Tom. Except for the wind in the trees and the snapping of our fire it was quiet for a long time. I couldn’t believe this was the same man who for years had been so outspoken against abortion. He and his wife had even volunteered at a crisis pregnancy center in his city.
Heartsick, I pressed him about the decision. Tom then made a statement that captured the essence of his problem...and the problem many others have in entering into genuine rest. In a mechanical voice, he said "I know what I believe, Tim, but that’s different than what I had to do. I had to make a decision that had the least amount of consequences for the people involved."
Just by the way he said it, I could tell my friend had rehearsed these lines over and over in his mind. And by the look in his eyes and the emptiness in his voice, I could tell his words sounded as hollow to him as they did to me.
Tim Kimmel, Little House on the Freeway, pp. 67-70.
Related Text Illustrations
Contributed by Jeff Strite on Jan 10, 2001
At Ohio State University, Ravi Zaccharias did an open forum on a radio talk show. The host was an atheist. From the start, the callers were antagonistic. "I could feel the tension as soon as the lines lit up. One angry woman caller said, “All you people have is an agenda you’re trying to ...read more
Contributed by Rich Young on Jan 21, 2001
Dr. Leo Alexander was a consultant to the Secretary of War in the Nuremberg Trials. He had extraordinary access to accused Nazi war criminals in the medical community. He wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine in ...read more
Contributed by Rich Young on Jan 21, 2001
JILL STANEK IS A 44 YEAR OLD NURSE WHO WORKED FOR SEVERAL YEARS AT THE CHRIST HOSPITAL & MEDICAL CENTER IN OAK LAWN, ILLINOIS, A CHICAGO SUBURB. SHE CHOSE THIS HOSPITAL BECAUSE OF ITS CHRISTIAN NAME, HOPING THAT SHE WOULDN’T HAVE TO FACE SOME OF THE ETHICAL DILEMMAS REGARDING ABORTION THAT ...read more
Contributed by Joseph Smith on Oct 24, 2000
Ridgecrest is a large Baptist-run assembly ground, nestled in the mountains of western North Carolina. All summer long, every year, thousands of Christians come to Ridgecrest for training, inspiration, Bible study, and challenge. A few years ago, during a conference, people began to notice a ...read more
Contributed by Troy Borst on Jan 29, 2001
ILLUSTRATION… Bush Blocks U.S. Abortion Aid By SANDRA SOBIERAJ, Associated Press Writer ``The promises of our Declaration of Independence are not just for the strong, the independent or the healthy. They are for everyone, including unborn children,’’ his statement said. ``We ...read more