Wrestling with God for Life

{written for The Morning Center blog: https://www.morningcenter.org/blog/wrestling-god-life}

My five year old son, Jeremiah, has a new hobby: knights and castle play. We’ve been reading “The Story of King Arthur and his Knights.” The first book ends with the motto of the Round Table: “We, the Knights of the Round Table, will be gentle unto the weak, courageous unto the strong, and terrible unto the wicked. We shall defend the helpless, hold all women as sacred, be merciful to all men, and defend and support each other until the end.

I’ll admit, the phrase: “hold all women as sacred” really caught my eye!  That is something I truly want impressed upon Jeremiah’s heart, but even more so, the truth that all of life is sacred.

It almost goes without saying that the Christian community holds to the value of “sanctity of life” and yet, I fear, without much thought. As Jacob wrestled with God, and in the wrestling held on tightly to Him, I believe that in order for our conviction of “sanctity of life” to have real depth, tenacity, and outward effect in our lives, there needs to be a true wrestling in the heart of each follower of Jesus.

When is the last time you came away from prayer limping?

In his book “Adopted for Life”, Russel Moore discusses spiritual warfare and Planned Parenthood. He argues that Satanic powers “rage against the babies and children” who reflect the image of God. He quotes Proverbs 8:36: “All who hate me love death,” and goes on to say, “Satan always uses human passions to bring about his purposes. When new life stands in the way of power [or selfish ambition]… the blood of children often flows. Herod loved his power; so he raged against babies… It’s easy to shake our heads in disgust at Pharoah or Herod or Planned Parenthood. It’s not as easy to see the ways in which we ourselves often have a Pharoah-like view of children rather than a Christlike view. What God calls blessing, we often grumble at as a curse- for the same reason those old kings did, because they disrupt our life plans.”

Let us pray boldly and sincerely:

Search me, O God, and know my heart!

Try me and know my thoughts!

And see if there be any grievous way in me. ~ Psalm 139:23-24a

My suspicion is that the painful, Jacob-style of wrestling with God is absent and a dull sense of complacency has taken root, in part, because we do not speak into each other’s lives with insight and truth. In a social media world where we are all hungry for the affirmation of the “like” we live in a people-pleasing culture.

You may not actually be sacrificing babies to Molech, but your heart has grown hard and cold to life in some arena. Where has your heart turned from desire? From beauty? From delight? Do you waste the glory of your life in numbing-dissociative addictions?  

The famous puritan John Owen wrote, in his book The Mortification of Sin, that a sincere fight against sin must be universal: “We must not be concerned only with that which troubles us, but with all that troubles God… If we will do anything, we must do everything. (2 Cor. 7:1) So then, our need is not only an intense opposition to this or that particular lust, but a universal humble frame and temper of heart that watches over every evil…” (The Mortification of Sin, John Owen and abridged by Richard Rushing).

The Sanctity of Life movement must have this same universal principle behind it. We must seek fullness of life in every corner of our own lives and world which we inhabit and seek to bring down all forces of death.

Dan Allender once said that we would have much more clarity if we take out the false sense of neutrality: If something is not love, then it is hate; if something is not life-giving and affirming, then it is of darkness and a herald of death.

The Serpent wooed Eve into an agreement with Evil as she assented to his lies. All the while she was completely unaware. Let us not think too highly of ourselves for we are not unlike Eve. Without any awareness we too have made agreements with the lies of Evil.

We need a jarring voice to awaken us and invite us into painful reflection.

May this question be a holy disruption in your life:

Have you broken your covenant (or agreement) with death?

Here is the jarring voice of Jesus: “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” ~ Matthew 16:25

We need to renounce the empty ways in which we search for life that are truly Satan’s façade that will destroy.

For my people have committed two evils:

they have forsaken me,

the fountain of living waters,

and hewed out cisterns for themselves,

broken cisterns that can hold no water. ~ Jeremiah 2:13

Only through repentance can we turn to Jesus afresh and let him lead us to life-abundant.

Then you will hear the voice of Jesus inviting you to fight for life and embody His mission in the unique realm he has called you to:

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,

because the LORD has anointed me

to bring good news to the poor;[fn]

he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,

to proclaim liberty to the captives,

and the opening of the prison to those who are bound…” ~ Isaiah 61:1

 

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

~ Mary Oliver, The Summer Day

And from the ground there blossoms red Life that shall endless be.

{this article was published in The Morning Center Chronicle, November 2017. The Morning Center provides free, full-service maternity care to underserved women in the name of Jesus. ProWoman. ProHope. ProLife.}

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. ~ John 10:10

The Morning Center stands for life.

However, our journey in supporting The Morning Center did not begin with life. Our journey’s seed-bed was Death:  our daughter, Tirzah Catherine Knight, was born still and silent at 40 weeks, and into the arms of Jesus on August 20, 2014. It was the darkest night of our lives.

She was our every dream and prayer come true. We loved her beyond words. Holding her in my arms, and the soft touch of her cheek was a touch of heaven… for a moment. But heaven is real, and I will touch her again.

We are people of the Resurrection. This is our hope.

It is from this place that our journey with The Morning Center blossomed.

Tirzah is NOT dead; she IS alive. Her life matters. Though born still and silent she has a voice that speaks loudly and clearly a message of life.

Tirzah’s message and the Morning Center’s mission are one and the same: Life. Resurrection. Eternal Life.

This is why we choose The Morning Center to honor and celebrate Tirzah’s life each year on her birthday, and invite others to join us. On her first birthday, we hosted an online baby shower that raised over $6000. We also celebrated her 1st birthday with a party and collected baby gifts. It was a holy experience to unwrap the gifts: clothes and dresses were chosen and wrapped through the tears of those who love us.

The dresses, that would have been so beautiful for Tirzah, were meant to bless another baby. Holding these dresses was literally holding grief and joy together: hope beyond the sorrow.

This baby shower for The Morning Center was actually a battle-cry:  A fierce stand that as Evil rages on this earth, scheming to “kill, thieve and destroy”, Death does NOT have the last word. Life wins!

In the battle against Evil and against Death, The Morning Center and all who work through the ministry are warriors fighting for life!

We joined forces with the Morning Center, because Jesus has conquered sin, Evil and death!

We stand on hope in the Resurrection. I repeat: Life wins!!

We love the Morning Center and are proud to join the war on their behalf because they have dual weaponry against the Enemy that is rare in Christian ministry: Sharing the Gospel in deed AND in Word.

The Morning Center enables women to carry and delivery their babies with excellent medical care. At the same time, their mission is sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the fullness of truth with love. I have been so blessed to join with The Morning Center through prayer and see their work overflowing in Bible study ministry to fathers and refugees in the community.

As we grieve our daughter here on earth, it has given us joy and peace in believing that the purpose of Tirzah’s life was for the grace of Jesus to spread (John 9:3). We see that promise fulfilled through The Morning Center, as her life has inspired us to take part in the gift of life to babies, mothers, fathers… and truly an entire community.

https://www.morningcenter.org/