Tom prayed. Gerry cried. I sat in awesome wonder at the providence of God.
It was the ninth hour of what would become our 30 hour experience of being stuck on the Pennsylvania Turnpike after the 43rd annual March for Life in Washington D.C.
Each year I take college students, young adults and a few stragglers to the March as we commemorate the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision which made abortion, the taking of an innocent human baby’s life, legal in this country.
We march not to judge, not to yell, but to simply say that every life that is created, conceived: is made in the image and likeness of God. Being made in God’s image and likeness, from the very beginning then, endows a child with fundamental rights: the first of those being, the right to life.
We wouldn’t allow it to be legal to end a baby’s life who is born if it might be mentally challenged, grow up poor, or if the parents just felt like, after all, it wasn’t the right time to be a parent. So why do we think its ok that it’s legal to end the baby’s life who isn’t born for all the same reasons?
So the March is an opportunity for us to gather to let our nation’s leaders know, we will not stop fighting for the rights of those who have no voice in our society, our unborn brothers and sisters.
Yet, abortion isn’t just about the baby. The baby is in a mother, and the baby was created with the help of a father. Their lives matter just as much as the baby. Often though the mother and father have been convinced that the ending of their baby’s life is in the best interest of everyone involved. But ending life, brings about its own unforeseen consequences that can be damaging for a lifetime.
Which brings me to Gerry, our bus driver. Middle aged, African-American, he didn’t talk much. I thought he was kind of gruff when I first met him. Maybe he was just having a bad day and besides, my mind was on other things.
We were trying to beat the massive snowstorm “Jonas” before it landed in D.C. and for a moment it seemed like we had done just that. Then the bus came to a screeching halt at one a.m. just 30 minutes west of Breezewood, Pennsylvania. I thought it would be a few hours at most, maybe an accident up ahead. But three a.m. quickly turned into five a.m., which then quickly became nine a.m. and we hadn’t moved an inch. Reports started to trickle in during the morning hours that it could be another 10-12 hours. We’d be in the bus another 22 total hours.
Nonetheless, to begin our day I thought we would pray a rosary as a bus and then share our testimonies about the March and what impacted us about it. For some, it was their eighth march, for others their first. Each felt uplifted by how many young people were there. The testimonies ended and then we settled in after everyone shared what small snacks they had as we divided them up around the bus for breakfast.
After breakfast and before the first movie, Gerry started sharing with Tom and me in the front of the bus. He talked of his family, his life, and his oldest daughters health problems. He paused. He got choked up a little bit. Then he began to share about the child he and his then girlfriend aborted. A tear slowly trickled down his face. ‘What would that child have been like?’ he wondered aloud, ‘Would I love him or her as much as I love my son and daughter?’ We talked for several more minutes as the pain of the abortion was released with each word Gerry allowed to come out. I’ve seen this before. Secrets kept silent for far too long finding fresh air which sets them free.
I thanked Gerry for sharing and my co-leader Tom asked if he would like to pray. Gerry agreed. He cried some more and it hit me that one of the reasons we were stuck on Interstate 76 was so that God could give Gerry the room to share. God could give Gerry men and women who would not judge him. God could bring healing to a wounded soul.
Gerry ended up sharing his testimony with the bus and I know it impacted everyone as much as it impacted me. Yes we were stuck, but we were struck by the fact that God was using this storm to bring about his purpose and his plan.
The next 19 hours included rationing food, movies, some more prayer, brushing our teeth in the snow and wondering how much longer it might be. But I think we all had an innate sense that we got stuck for a reason, and it was beyond us. God had other plans. God had plans for a healing.
The students and others on my bus could have complained. They barely ate, the bathroom stunk and 30 hours with anyone can be a nightmare for introverts on the bus (myself included). But I barely heard any negativity because we quickly learned God was up to something, in all of us.
And make no mistake, God is up to something for your life right now as well. He is planning a healing for you. All he needs is the time. Give him an hour sometime this week. You will be amazed at what miracles he can do in your heart.
That’s all God needs, is the time. Your time. When you give God your time, you can sit back and be awed by His great providence. So don’t fear the storm, or storms yet to come. It’s in those storms, snow or otherwise, that tears may come which permit newness.
I’ll be heading back to the March for Life next year, if abortion is still legal, to defend the rights of the unborn. I hope you’ll consider joining us. It might just give you an opportunity to be born again in how you view yourself, the world, and the providence of God.