FIRST-PERSON: The name on the card

OPELIKA, Ala. (BP)--The table was deathly cold, as were the doctor's hands that were swiftly at work to remove the small life whose heart had only just begun to beat.

The room was spinning, and vomit rose in my throat as the shame of what I was allowing him to do to my baby threatened to choke the life out of me as well. Although there was no sound, no verbal plea, I could still hear an ever-so-small voice calling out to me in my despair. What was it saying? No, please don't.... Please don't.... Please don't.

But it was too late. The voice was gone, along with the tiny little body. Oh, the shame, the guilt, the depression and the total sense of despair that followed. How could I do such a selfish and wicked thing? What kind of a human being am I? I wanted to die.

As I staggered to the exit door of the clinic, I noticed a nurse filing a card in her drawer. I suppose it had my name and the information concerning my dead baby. So that's it, I thought. His entire life is on an index card that will remain shoved between the E's and the G's in that cold metal filing cabinet.

What did the card say? Did it say if it was a boy or a girl? No, I think I heard someone say that you can't tell that early. Call it women's intuition, but I believe it was a boy. I've learned since then that God knits the little ones together in their mother's wombs, so I guess only He really knows.

I can picture the holy hands of God forming his features, forming his personality, forming his likes and dislikes. At the time, I didn't know that, so I kept telling myself over and over that it didn't matter. But somehow I knew that it did matter. I knew that something that mattered so very much was written on a card instead of living, breathing, laughing and loving.

The card would never tell about the expression on his face when he takes his first steps or when he peddles a bike for the first time without training wheels. I'll never get to slip into his room after he has gone to sleep and just hold his sleeping body in my arms or adore the way his messy hair looks when he wakes up in the morning. He'll never know what a butterfly kiss is or experience the sheer delight of Daddy arriving home from work. He'll never know the warmth and security of cuddling with his mama after his bath.

No, the card will not tell of these things because they will not come to pass.

The card. What if someone I know starts working at this clinic and sees my name in the files? Now I am even more ashamed. I am worried about my reputation when I have killed my own child. Oh, the shame of someone finding out.

That was 14 years ago. Each autumn as I have watched the leaves change colors and fall to their death, I have been reminded of my ultimate fall, the day I paid to have my first child put to death. One counselor said it's like an onion. Each year another layer of guilt-stricken emotion would adapt, harden and peel off, only to have a new, fresh layer to suffer through. I've cried through 14 burning layers so far.

Since that day in the clinic, I met a loving Savior. I'd known about His forgiveness and thanked Him for it, but I never felt the redemption. I knew it was there but I couldn't feel it. I'd cried out in anguish for Him to take the guilt and suffering from me, but there was no answer. Not until the other night.

It was one of those dreams that seem so real. Every little detail is as though I am there. I am in the clinic, shamefully watching the nurse file away my card. The devouring darkness is like a heavy blanket wrapped around me so tightly that I gasp for air. Suddenly a man appears beside the nurse. Oh, no. It's someone I recognize. Someone is going to find out what I have done. The man turns so I can see his face. No, please, not Him ... anyone but Him. It's Jesus.

"Please go," I plead. "You shouldn't be here in this horrible place." But He doesn't leave. Instead, He gently takes the card from the nurse's hand. I begin to shake as I watch His eyes absorb the shameful reality of what I have done. Slowly, He drops His head and begins to weep. I am so ashamed that I have brought Him to this place for this reason. I hopelessly fall to the floor in despair.

I feel His hands on my shoulders and I look up into His eyes, expecting His wrath. But I see no anger or condemnation, only compassion. His face reflects sorrow, and I am aware that it runs deeper than my own. He wraps His arms around me, and I bury my face in his chest. I weep harder. Our tears seem to flow in unison.

When I finally let go, He begins to write something on the card. I look down and find that He has written over my sin with His own name. He has written in a thick crimson red that is so dark and so rich that I can no longer read what was there before. There, in His own blood, the name of Jesus Christ has covered my sin. The heavy blanket is lifted, and as I look back up into His holy eyes, He smiles the most tender smile as He whispers to me, "It is finished."

Yes, it is finished. At long last I understand. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ, only redemption. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so. I'm redeemed, I'm redeemed, praise the Lord!


Ginger Plowman, author of Wise Words for Moms and Don't Make Me Count to Three! (available 2004), is a speaker for Proverbs 31 Ministries for which she teaches on biblical parenting across the country. For more information visit her website at www.gingerplowman.com.

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