I’ve always been a country music fan, much more so if you wind the cassette tape back about twenty years. I like to think it was the clever lyrics and the common appreciation of simplicity that appealed to this little hillbilly’s heart, but maybe it was just Keith Urban. Either way, country music of the 90’s offered youth valuable lessons. Garth made me appreciate my Friends in Low Places. My geographical knowledge hardly goes beyond Alan Jackson’s Chattahoochee. George Strait championed everyone to Check Yes or No on November 3rd (or was it just way back in third grade?), and there was that gem of wisdom from Diamond Rio: some of the most difficult situations can be remedied if we’d just Meet in the Middle.
This past weekend found me pacing the sidewalk in front of a Planned Parenthood to a more somber beat, my thoughts and emotions still far from fully processed. A sign hung from my neck, “Pray to End Abortion.” With a few others, I prayed and walked quietly up and down the block, unable to stop and stand or sit due to a city restriction that prevented anyone from blocking the pedestrian path. Cigarette butts lined our walk. Old, black gum smeared the cracked pavement, and autumn’s goodbyes, a mix of fallen leaves and pink rose petals, blew by our shoes.
Cars sped by on the busy road. Many early morning commuters honked to encourage us, some never seemed to notice, another cranked up their radio either to drown our prayers or remind me, “Life is Highway.”
A handful of vehicles turned into the clinic as we prayed. It seemed like such a final decision to what must have been a tumultuous road here. What would have happened if our paths crossed before now? Would the circumstances or outcome be any different? Would she ever have believed me if I told her how much Jesus loves her and her baby, or that there were other options? I lack any answers, especially if I look to song lyrics.
Rather than entertainment performers or political commentators or social media directing us, what if we entrusted our hearts to the One who molded them?
Saturday, I woke up early to pray. After an hour on that sidewalk, my prayer was short, but maybe not so simple.
“Open our eyes, Lord.”
I pray we stop hitting the proverbial snooze button, and realize just how short and how great a gift our time is on Earth. I pray we see that our lives aren’t isolated little blips or accidents, but miracles interlaced with humanity and eternity. I pray it’s obvious how we have been fooled into thinking that there is any room for hate, pride, gossip, vanity, judgement, selfishness or self-righteousness. I pray we look to Jesus.
When it was over, I melted into my ride home, a gassed-up, smooth riding mini-van with coffee splashes on the interior. Take me home, Country Roads. No, much better yet, Jesus Take the Wheel. None of us can do this on our own.
I don’t know the path that led those women to their decision this weekend. I can’t articulate the trail that took me there either. When I came home to my husband humming a different song (off-tune, bless his big heart), it served as another reminder.
And He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own.
We all are.
The Lord of the Universe made each of us, and He sent His Son so that we may have life abundantly. His mercies are new every morning.
Now for a baby step in the right direction: to curate my children’s playlist. I’m thinking a mix of TobyMac, good, old hymns, and maybe a bit of the Judds, George, and Keith Urban.