In this past year in which I’ve seen and experienced heartbreaking loss and poverty, “speaking life” has become the reason I write; it’s changing every relationship and endeavor in my life.
Funny thing is that not many people would identify me, the classic introvert, as a “speaker.” And yet I do speak.
Every day I communicate what I value the most through the choices I make with my money, time, and words. Once those things are spent, they can’t be reclaimed.
And so I want to speak well.
I think you do too.
“Speaking life” is a phrase that’s becoming cliché in Christian circles, and yet for me it sums up what it means to affirm the value of every person in every stage of life in every place on the planet.
“I didn’t feel like I was worth anything …”
“I didn’t feel that I was fearfully or wonderfully made …”
“I didn’t feel that I had any worth or value …”
“I thought I was unworthy, unlovable, not beautiful …”
These statements were the common thread woven in the onset of their stories. But the stories have been transformed because Christ-followers, armed with compassion and courage, reached out to these victims of human trafficking. These brave women now know that they are worth everything in the eyes of their Redeemer. They are living the liberating experience of what it means to be worthy, lovable, and beautiful.
After I heard their testimonies, I felt compelled to become an advocate for freedom. And something else tugged at my heart:
I couldn’t wait to go home and wrap my daughter in my arms. And tell her that she is fearfully and wonderfully made. And desperately loved by her mommy and daddy and her God.
It’s time to be for life.
A “pro-life” position is usually, and unfortunately, staked in political and divisive stances these days. For many years, I aligned myself with an anti-abortion stance. And one day I realized that it wasn’t enough. I had completed my internship at the local crisis pregnancy center. For my next assignment, I was begrudgingly assigned to a nursing home.
But as I grew to adore the nursing home residents, I realized that God had granted me the opportunity to appreciate the preciousness of life at both ends of the spectrum. In the pre-born child and in the aged I saw the imago Dei – the image of God. I finally got what it means for me to be “pro-life.”
Whether the skin is bathed in amniotic fluid or covered with wrinkles of many years, the person is one whom God loves. Fearfully and wonderfully made. Unhidden from his or her Creator.
The Scripture says –
“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again.
So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view.” (2 Corinthians 5:14 – 16)
Christ died for my life. Your life. Your neighbor’s life. The sex slave’s life. The refugee’s life. The unborn baby’s life.
As a Christian, that truth has to radically transform how I see and treat life – whether young or old; rich or poor; able-bodied or impaired; slave or free; weak or strong.
According to Proverbs 18:21, the tongue has the power of life and death. We “speak life” when our words and actions honor the inherent value in every person created by God’s plan for His purposes.
Resigning “pro-life” to a political platform is a cop-out. Rather, being pro-life is an everyday choosing of God’s perspective. Speaking life doesn’t have to involve words at all. Pro-life happens when we direct our eyes from our gadgets to another human. Or when we give our time as a free gift. And as we listen more than we speak.
Speaking life means serving the orphan and the widow. It means that we become an undeniable voice for the 27 million men, women, and children trapped in slavery today.
Through a season of grief, I’ve learned that there are times and ways, even when I’m sitting in my own darkness, to carry the light to someone else. Comfort, I’ve discovered, is “common fortitude” – or strength found in community with God and with one another.
Image-Bearer, even if your circumstances are dim, the light within is not extinguished. Lift the flicker up to God and give it a chance to shine even brighter against the backdrop of your suffering. The Holy Spirit, the breath of Heaven, will re-kindle hope within you.
The compassion that He ignites within can shine into another hurting soul.
So now I’m on a “pro-life” mission. I’m re-reading Sacred Marriage and Sacred Parenting. I’m re-energized to visit my elderly friends. I will express to my daughter that she is valued, not for what she does but for who she is.
I’m exploring ways to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. I’ll speak up for those who have been pushed to the margins of our society. I’m thinking about ways to affirm the beauty and purpose of the preborn to old to in-between.
Silent Images is a non-profit organization with a mission to educate and inspire Christ-followers to get involved and make a difference in the areas of human trafficking, high school dropouts, homeless children, abortion, prisoner re-entry, refugees, and the elderly. Silent Images produced the GOOD (Get Off Our Donkey) series to encourage the Body of Christ to follow the good Samaritan’s example when he got off his donkey to tend to the wounds of a hurting soul. Jesus told His followers to “go and do likewise” (Luke 10:37). The testimonies from the GOOD series are powerful, and I encourage you to watch them.
Shine a light on slavery – http://enditmovement.com/
Sacred Parenting and Sacred Marriage books are written by Gary Thomas.
Songs – Speak Life by Toby Mac and Words by Hawk Nelson