The photograph came in the mail with a Christmas card a few years ago. It showed a beautiful little girl of about four and on the back was written her name and short sentence,
“I cannot imagine not having her!”
What memories it brought back! Most vivid was the one of a young girl, barely out of her teens, in the fetal position on the floor of her apartment, sobbing her heart out. Four people kept the vigil almost all night: my wife, a young man, the young girl on the floor, and myself. The girl was a Christian from a very conservative congregation of a very conservative denomination. She dreaded telling her parents the news, fearful that it would crush them. She was not married, and pregnant. The father of the baby was the young man, newly come to Colorado Springs. He was uncomfortable, embarrassed, miserable.
Abortion seemed to be the only way out, she thought. She had made an appointment with an abortionist for the next morning at 9:00. She knew what her parents and church thought about unwed parents and about abortion. But this way, she thought, they might never know, for they were in one of the frozen states of the north and she far away in Colorado Springs. Only she and the young man needed to know. The young man had called us the night before, telling us the whole story. He had enough understanding of right and wrong to cringe at the prospect of abortion. Could we do something? I didn’t know, but was willing to do what I could. So my wife and I went over, and found them as described.
What to do? We searched our minds. We prayed. We pled with her to get on the phone, call her parents, promise us not to get the abortion. For long minutes she just lay there sobbing. The night dragged on and on.
“If I kept the baby, would I have to marry him?” she asked. I replied that in the Old Testament that would be the decision of her father, but the conception of a child out of wedlock is not in itself a good reason for marriage. She insisted that she did not love him, and would not marry him.
“I could never face my parents,” she sobbed. She loved her parents; she respected and agreed with their faith. She hated the very idea of bringing shame and disappointment to them. My wife said, “But wouldn’t they hate the idea of an abortion more than an unmarried pregnancy?”
“Yes,” she said. “But they wouldn’t have to know.” She returned to this theme again and again.
The long hours passed. More prayer, more Bible reading, more sobbing and tears. As the time wore on it became clear that confrontation with her parents was the major issue. We realized what had to be done.
Calling out to God from the depth of my heart, I said something like this, “_____________ [using her name]. Your parents are going to know, because I am going to tell them. In a few minutes I am going to go home, pick up the phone, and tell them that you are pregnant and that you have an appointment with an abortionist tomorrow morning at 9:00 o’clock. So whether or not your parents know is no longer an issue. If you have the baby or if you don’t, they are going to know, because I will tell them.” I knew it smacked of blackmail, but I didn’t care. The very life of her baby was at stake.
But I never had to make that call. In a few minutes, she stopped sobbing, got to her feet, looked me in the eye, and said that she would call. She would call her parents and not keep the appointment in the morning. I knew that her word was good. It was then almost dawn, we had a time of prayer, and the three of us went home, thanking God for a wonderful victory of grace.
She did not abort her baby. She did not marry the young man. He soon left Colorado Springs, and dropped out of our lives. She returned to her parents’ house to have her baby.
About four years later the picture came. “I cannot imagine not having her.” She was still not married; that would come later, we would learn, and other children would follow.
But to my wife and me there is only one, that beautiful little girl in the photograph. Some battles are worth fighting. Some vigils are worth the labor. She must be about thirteen years old now, and we have never met. [This was written in the year 2000. She is married now] That will come in heaven. To God be the glory. This preacher has failed many times. It was really nice to win one. –from Basket of Figs, 2000