I’m going to tell you what I said to God when the first video came out. Then I’m going to tell you everything that happened in my brain since then. Then I’m going to tell you what I’m saying to God now.
Here’s what I said to God after the first video came out:
Father, you are holy.
Father, you are righteous.
Father, I’m afraid. Father, don’t make me hope.
I’d really rather die.
Don’t get me wrong. Those videos were kind of cool, and I always knew they were kind of cool.
I mean, for a moment, the enemies of God had to shut their mouths. The liars and the flatterers, the blasphemers and the pontificators, the smooth talkers and the braggers—their tongues rotted in their throats. The noise stopped. For a moment I could hear the murmur of my own will and my own heart. It frightened me but I sort of liked it. These videos came out, and God’s enemies were naked. They had nowhere to hide. Everybody could see their shame. And everybody did. I mean, like, everybody in America. And everybody knew: they were small. God’s enemies were so small.
They weren’t doctors or high priests or professors of anything. They certainly weren’t standing for anything higher than themselves—not women’s rights or the Modern Age, or the death of the old gods, or anything like that. They weren’t magnificent demons, they were deformed little pigs. They weren’t grand and seductive madams, they were fifteen-dollar whores. They were small.
They were abortionists, which is to say, they were baby killers. They were tradesmen and their “good” was slaughtered little bodies. But even the magnitude of their evil didn’t make them special. There weren’t any Hitlers or Stalins or bin Ladens in those videos. No satanic majesties. These were just people.
Even in nice suits eating nice meals, they were equal parts gruesome and banal. They were no better than grave robbers. Actually, they were grave robbers. Their only innovation was to create a grave inside a womb, and rob that. Many of them were doing it for the money.
We think God’s enemies are so big. But they’re small.
God’s enemies broke the silence immediately and started jabbering. That’s one thing that God’s enemies know how to do—talk and talk and talk. So they lied and prattled and tried to cover it back up. But everybody knew. And people wanted to talk about it. Even The New York Times published a big op-ed piece from a man who said,
These are dead human beings being discussed on video today: Human beings that the nice, idealistic medical personnel at Planned Parenthood have spent their careers crushing, evacuating, and carving up for parts. . . . You can turn away. But there will be plenty of chances to look, to see, to know
He was right. Everybody had the chance to see. Some people tried to look away. Some people tried to forget. But those videos were about as easy to forget as a cupboard full of maggots.
The word was out. God’s enemies at Planned Parenthood were wicked baby killers, who chopped pieces from the tiny corpses and sold them for money. I guess everybody always knew that. But we’re stupid and we’re sinful. Sometimes we only see things when they’re in
I never felt hope before. I didn’t know what hope was. So much so, that I didn’t know I never felt it. It was only when I first recognized it pushing through the soil in my heart that I also recognized its profound and utter absence at any point in my life before.
I’m like a guy who didn’t know he was hungry until he smelled steak and onions. Or maybe I’m like a guy who didn’t know what sweetness was until he took his first sip of Coca-Cola.
I don’t know what the right metaphor is. I just knew that when those videos came out I had never felt any hope until then. And here’s the thing:
Hope is the most excruciating feeling in the world.
Before now, I thought America was Sodom or Babel or Old Jerusalem. I thought, in the cosmic scheme of things, we were toast.
I never thought we might be Nineveh. Or Old Israel on one of those occasions when they got themselves a good king who smashed all the idols to pieces.
Here’s what I prophesized:
Sometime in my lifetime, God would judge America for the crime of murdering babies. And we’re not talking, like, gas goes up to twenty dollars a gallon. We’re talking judgment judgment. Iran-uses-the-nuke, China-invades-the-West-Coast, California-falls-into-the-ocean, Manhattan-gets-hit-by-a-meteor, Detroit-keeps-being-Detroit type judgment.
Or maybe it would be more biblical. A book of Revelation type deal. Oceans of blood welling up from the ground—geysers and cascades and rivers of blood, soaking the earth and swallowing the trees and beating the cities down. And mingled in that blood, the bodies of the dead. Little arms and little legs and heads with sightless eyes and mouths silently screaming.
Because Blood may be buried, Blood may be hidden, Blood may be mopped up and sanitized and swept down a drain. But Blood cries out.
I imagined a sea of little corpses, crying out their accusations. I saw myself among the accused. And I saw myself beg for mercy because I was not the one who had planted those bodies in the earth and watered them with bucket upon bucket of their own blood. But I couldn’t distance myself from the crowd of the accused. I didn’t deserve to. I couldn’t escape the sins of my country. I was like everybody else. I had built my whole life on that mountain of little corpses.
Sure, I had denounced their murders one or two times when it was easy for me, said a couple prayers, done a few laps around the courthouse square once a year. Sure I’d felt bad about it, but I was in a Christian crowd where it was fashionable to feel bad. I didn’t have any more depth of feeling about it than a celebrity doing a commercial on the horrors of mistreating cats.
I always looked away when I could. I always forgot when I could. I was guilty as anybody. I’d fed on the thousand fruits of convenience and pleasure that grew in the compost of those corpses. I was totally damned. I guess I would have told you that Jesus would forgive me in heaven. But here on earth, when the tide of blood and bodies came, when Iran got the nuke, or China attacked, or whatever God selected as His final judgment, I was going to be washed away. We all were. We had to pay for the sins of our nation.
Hope deferred makes the heart-sick, it says. And I guess it must be true since it’s in the Bible.
Hope is the thing with feathers, Emily Dickenson said. I guess she was pretty smart.
But the more I thought about those videos, and the more I thought about people’s reactions to those videos, the more I felt sick. Something in me was alive for the first time and it made me want to puke my guts out.
Here’s the honest truth. Before I sat down to write the first draft of the piece you are reading right now, I cried for forty-two minutes.
Why did I do that?
I don’t care about abortion that much. I never have. It’s too big. It’s too unstoppable. It’s like the Holocaust or Hiroshima or Hurricane Katrina. I don’t feel bad about any of that stuff. I feel bad when somebody stubs his toe. I feel bad when a kid takes a lick off his ice cream cone and the scoop falls onto the sidewalk. And yeah, I feel bad when people die or people are cruel to other people. But it helps if they’re people I know. And it helps if it’s one or two of them at a time. How do you feel bad for 57,762,169 aborted babies?
I know those babies were made in God’s image. I know they feel hurt and fear as they are ripped into pieces. I know a body and soul are ruptured. But when it’s 57,762,169 and counting, and when there’s not a thing I can do about it, where do I even start? Why should I even bother? So I never thought too much about it. I marched around the courthouse with my church friends and I hoped nobody I knew would drive by.
One time one of my best friends took an axe and smashed up our local Planned Parenthood. Because, y’know, they kill babies there. He couldn’t take it anymore. He did it at night when nobody was there, but he still lost his job, was convicted of a felony, almost went to jail, and owes the government thousands of dollars in restitution. A few weeks later the Planned Parenthood was fixed up and ready to start killing babies again.
I guess he sure showed ’em.
The day after it happened, a pastor from our church called me to make sure I wasn’t going to get any funny ideas. Like maybe I would be inspired to follow in my friend’s footsteps. Maybe all my pent-up guilt and rage would boil over and I would snap and put on my secret Batman costume and go and, I dunno, throw bricks through the windows of abortion doctors.
I almost laughed at him over the phone. I wanted to say, “Dude, you don’t get it. I grew up right outside of Auschwitz. Everyday I breathed in the black smoke from its death-mills. I’m living there still. I never expect to live anywhere else. I never expect to breathe any other air. Sure, it’s sad. Sure we’re all going to be judged. Sure these modern-day Nazis are Bad People. But there ain’t no Allied Army marching to our rescue. This is the world we live in. I made my peace with it a long time ago. Because I didn’t want to go crazy, and I didn’t want to do nothing but cry all the time, and I certainly didn’t want to ever think I could break some glass and knock over some computers and make a difference.”
And maybe just a sprinkling of piety to conclude: “God will sort it all out in the final judgment. But that’s all we can hope for.”
Cut to now. I keep thinking it over. And I’m not the same guy that wanted to say those things to his pastor. That’s why I cried for forty-two minutes before I wrote this.
Those videos made people notice. They made people think. They made the bad guys look foolish and stupid and, well, bad. And people, my people, Americans, really did have to face what abortion was, if only for a moment. I mean, like, it was all over Twitter. It was all over Facebook. The New York Times published that op-ed.
Mobs didn’t storm the streets. Babies will die today and most people will go to work and have dinner and not give it too much thought. But when those videos came out, people noticed. People cared. And God’s enemies had to go on the defensive, just for a moment. It was odd. I’d never seen anything like it in my lifetime.
Yet by the time this is published, it may all be forgotten. The American public, as a rule, has about as much memory and cultural sensitivity as the average dachshund. Why else would we have Planned Parenthood in the first place? And we all have a vested interested in keeping baby-murder legal so women can keep going to school and work, so our economy doesn’t collapse, so men don’t have to provide for women and kids, and, also, because SEX.
I’m not an idiot. I see how things are.
The more I pray and the more I think, the more I know that this is probably just the silence before the trapdoor is sprung on the gallows. It probably is too late.
Even if our country decided to repent, it would take too long for a behemoth like America to get down on its knees. Revivals don’t happen overnight. Revolutions take centuries to simmer. Great Awakenings aren’t as great as they’re cracked up to be.
We’ve made our bed, now we have to lie in it. The only thing to do is wait for judgment. My prophecy is probably right. If people’s consciences have been pricked by these videos, they will scab over. Probably God didn’t ordain the Center for Medical Progress as ministers of mercy. Probably He sent them as prophets of doom. Already the scoffers and mockers are decrying them. And people are forgetting. Even as they release new videos, people aren’t talking as much.
I mean, the people who felt something watching those videos can’t go on feeling that same thing forever. Even good people have to get on with their lives.
And here’s another thing. In showing us those freezers full of “fetal tissue” don’t the videos feed our taste for sickening spectacle and desensitize us just a bit to the whole idea of dead babies? Sure, we were revolted by what we saw. But didn’t a little part of us have to die just to keep watching? And in the end, when nothing really changes, might that not be the legacy of the videos? That they were just another step in the hardening of people’s hearts?
And let’s not forget that the murderers and their lackeys are the aristocracy of a billion-dollar empire of blood. That’s the clincher. Too many people stand to make too much money for there to be any hope of change. For there to be any hope, period.
That’s why I cried. That’s why I get sick just thinking about hoping.
And yet, what?
And yet I don’t know
I don’t know how to pray.
I don’t know how to ask.
I don’t know how to think. I really don’t.
But here’s what I say to God now:
What if you hear prayer?
What if when I’m on my way to work and I say a prayer in the car, I’m not just saying it to the vinyl seats? What if when people get down on their knees in their bedroom, they’re not just praying to the ceiling? What if when little kids ask Jesus to help their kitty-cat’s paw get better, Jesus is a real person who hears those prayers too?
What if You’re up there right now? What if You exist? What if all the stuff we tell ourselves about You is true? What if You are listening right now, Father? What if You can hear me? What if You know me? What if You know every hair on my head?
What if everything You say about Yourself is true? I mean really true? What if You laid the foundations of the earth? What if You split the sky and the sea and laid the boundaries of both?
What if You hear the songs that the stars sing?
What if You see into the darkest depths of the sea and the farthest depths of the sky? What if You marshal the morning, and command the night? What if You swaddle us with light and swaddle us with darkness as easily as a mother swaddles a newborn?
What if You are the God of Lightning and the Father of Thunder and the Begetter of Dew? What if You send the snow and stir the wind? What if You make the dust particles swarm, and the clods of earth stick together? What if You provide meat for every hatchling of every raven who ever tastes a worm?
What if, when You told old Job You did all that stuff, You weren’t a trickster or a sprite or some oriental demon, but You were, quite simply, the Almighty Revealed?
What if You hate sin as You say You do? What if You actually mean to shatter the teeth of the wicked? What if You are a refiner’s fire, and all evil will be consumed on the great and terrible day of Your coming? What if, on that day, all the kings and false priests and abortionists really will plead with the mountains to crush them? What if the glee of the baby killers will turn to horror in the moment they find themselves forever burning in a real place called Hell?
What if You—the God that I pray to on the way to work, the God that kids pray to for their kitty-cat’s paw to get better—what if You are the same God who wiped out the whole world in a flood? What if You are the God who splintered our tongues at Babel? What if You are the God who rained fire on Sodom?
And what if You are the same God who told Abraham He would spare Sodom if ten righteous men were found there? What if You are the same God who stayed His hand when Nineveh repented in sackcloth and ashes? What if You were the still small voice that told Your despairing prophet seven thousand had not bowed the knee to Baal?
What if You are the same God who loved this world so much that You sent Your only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him might not perish but would have eternal life? What if that verse is true?
What if the blood of Christ is powerful enough to wash away the tide of all the blood we’ve shed as a nation?
What if there’s still time for my country, which I love, to repent? What if we can still ask for mercy?
What if we had a great bonfire of all our butcher’s tools and poison pills? What if in every city the houses of horror were torn down, and replaced with memorials to all the victims of our collective self-actualization?
What if no girl ever had to be frightened that her mother or father might make her kill the dear one living inside her?
What if the oppressors were overthrown? What if the scorners of life and those who profited by death were punished? What if the mockers choked on their own spit?
What if the murderers were the ones who had to be afraid?
What if I didn’t have to be afraid? What if young girls, pregnant too soon, didn’t have to be afraid? What if women with precious ones in their bellies didn’t have to be afraid? What if fathers and mothers with no money didn’t have to be afraid? What if the law of the land defended people from their own fears and doubts and selfishness and anger? What if nobody had to be afraid of killing their own child, or being made to kill their child, or being complicit in the killing of another’s child, because, once and for all, we as a nation tore down the apparatus of death?
What if the murderers were the ones who had to be afraid?
And what if we loved the little ones again? What if we nurtured them? What if we protected them? What if every little baby that cried out in the darkness had a mother or father or brother or sister to hold and comfort it?
What if, in every child, even the tiny, even the weak, even the feeble, we saw the reflection of the light of God? What if, in the laugh of every toddler, in the coo of every newborn, in the heartbeat of every unborn, we heard the voice of God? And that voice said:
I am the Lord.
I am the Giver of life.
I am the Father of lights.
I am the Father from whom all fatherhood gets its name.
These are My precious ones.
Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the Kingdom of God.
Father, what if these things happened in my lifetime? What if your servants at the Center for Medical Progress weren’t prophets of doom? What if revival happened? What if your anger was abated?
What if all the people, my people who I love very much, woke up? What if they saw? With you all things are possible. You have no pleasure in the death of the wicked. You want them to repent and live. You are a God who is angry with the wicked every day, but you are also a tender and loving daddy. How these things go together I don’t have a clue, but You have testified this about Yourself, and I believe it.
So, Father. Heavenly Father God. Lord Almighty. Daddy.
I don’t know what’s coming. I don’t know if it’s good or bad.
But I’m doing it now. Maybe for the first time. Help me to do it please. Because I want to do it.
I won’t always know when and how to do it. I can’t promise to do it well. But I will do it if you will help me.
I will hope.