This past Friday, I finally put my money (or rather feet) where my mouth is by participating in the March for Life in Charlotte, North Carolina. I never had participated in one before. Although I had planned on going to Washington, DC, Charlotte was more convenient, being only 80 miles from my home in North Wilkesboro. Besides, since this was only the second year for a Charlotte March, the crowd (and probability of confrontation) would be smaller. Thus, with head held high, I drove to Charlotte feeling very noble for giving up my day for the Lord. However, by the end of the march, I was a different person as I had witnessed first hand how the Grace of God can bring real nobility and courage out of pain and suffering. I saw and experienced how human weakness can give glory to God.
I also learned something disturbing about myself. I'm afraid to offend people, even if it's about something as serious as saving somebody else's life. With a few rare exceptions, most of my life has been spent in the cocoon of like minded people…in clean offices, beautiful churches, neat neighborhood, pleasant restaurants. Even when I went on a mission trip to Mexico, as different an environment as that was, I was still with like minded Christians, Americans or Mexican villagers. In all these environments, I felt accepted and loved to various degrees.
Although nobody was shouting at me (other than a few honking horns to drown out our prayers), I still felt intimidated and humbled in Charlotte. However, for perhaps the first time in my life, I got a little taste (a very small taste) of what the early Christians must have felt like in the arena waiting for the lions, with thousands of people yelling at them. I'm a bit embarrassed to even make the comparison, because no one was even yelling at us. Most of the time, it was just the fact that they appeared to be ignoring us that intimidated me. That was what was most disturbing to me… it was my reaction to such a small amount of resistance to our message. And what was most interesting was that the most cordial responses we got were from the street people who accepted the rosary that was given to them with a smile and a thank you. "Blessed are the Poor is Spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven."
And thank goodness for the children. They could not have cared less about what anybody thought as they fearlessly held their Pro-Life signs high while they walked with their parents, who had obviously taught them well. I recalled the passage from Matthew 19: "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."
What was most humbling to me was seeing the women who carried the sign "I Regret My Abortion," and listening to the short speeches that two of them gave telling what led them to the decision to have an abortion, the pain they felt for years, and the joy they felt after they let Jesus Christ come into their lives and accepted His forgiveness and comfort. What courage it must have taken for them to do that. Not only did they risk the wrath and disdain of those walking past us on the sidewalk who were currently feeling the post-abortive pain, but also the disdain of some pro-lifers who have not personally experienced an abortion, but have not yet been able to forgive those who have. Yes, that took courage. Peter must have felt the same way on that Pentecost day when, knowing he had denied Jesus Christ to His face not 40 days before, still spoke boldly of his faith in that same Jesus Christ to thousands of people, some of whom no doubt had witnessed or at least heard of that denial the night before He died. But he spoke out anyway in spite of the risk of being called a hypocrite. Sound familiar?
And I was intimidated just by being ignored.