Recently, I sat in a pastor's office hoping to gain permission to hold our CPC's next post-abortion Bible study in one of the church's classrooms. Just a few days before, I had the privilege of co-facilitating the study for a second time—and the third would begin in a few weeks. I briefly shared with the pastor our CPC's mission, our commitment to privacy, and the blessings of seeing the Lord work amazing miracles of healing in the lives of these precious women. However, as the conversation progressed, I noticed something about my speech—something familiar, yet odd, in light of my salvation. I had begun to slip back into my old pattern of behavior—feeling the need to prove my worthiness as a believer. Our conversation had necessitated that I weave in some of my personal history in order to clarify questions put forth by the pastor. While pleased to be an advocate in requesting use of the facility, in retrospect, the appeal was coupled with self-humiliation.
This pattern of shame was very recognizable because it not only predated my salvation experience, but also had been nurtured throughout my Christian life.
The shame began 30 years ago, when at age 15 I experienced my own abortion. The shame continued throughout my 20 years as a believer. However, in May 2006, I participated in a post-abortion Bible study, and through the revelation of God's precious truths and promises, I was finally able to take hold of the freedom that had been so elusive. Miraculously, a mere few months later, I stood in front of an audience of 250 CPC staff, supporters, and volunteers and revealed my story of healing—the same healing that I fervently desire for hurting women who find their way to our pregnancy center in search of compassion, acceptance, and hope.
As I sat across from this gentle pastor and spoke on behalf of these women, my newfound liberation, which earlier that day stood so dominant in my heart and mind, was now in question. I asked myself, "Could I have forgotten God's promises so easily—that I am His darling, His beloved—and anyone who trusts in Him will never be put to shame?"
My temporary memory loss and flashback of the burden of unforgiveness weighed heavily on me. It was, in essence, my return to the bondage of Egypt. God had sent a Deliverer and freed me of my chains, but I, like the Israelites drifted toward the familiar, even if the familiar meant reentering slavery. A few days after my meeting I found myself pondering the Lord's reassuring words from Romans 8:15, "For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons by whom we cry, 'Abba Father!'"
We are sons and daughters and are to go forth in our walk with the Lord, no longer living as slaves but as free people—exonerated from the yoke of despair.
Furthermore, according to Galatians 5:1, this sacrificial gift of freedom also enables us to accomplish what had been previously impossible—to live lives in obedience to Him. Praise the Lord for His indwelling Holy Spirit who reminds us of who we are in Christ!
Many believers have a story to tell—a story of God's restoration in our lives from brokenness, pain, sorrow, and often our return to the paralyzing cloak of doubt.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11 says, "Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." (Italics added for emphasis.)
In other words, what we once were, we no longer are because of what God has done for us through His Son, Jesus. We are to leave behind the things of the past—the good, the bad, and the ugly. Instead, God takes the shattered pieces of our lives that have bound us in despondency, self-pity, bitterness, and self-loathing and brings about restoration. Our past with all of its many failures is often the treasure used by God to build something beautiful in our lives and in the lives of those who are hurting—those to whom we are called to minister.
The meeting with the pastor yielded many things—a temporary home for our post-abortion Bible study, a keener awareness of the believer's battle against distrust and hopelessness, and new insights into the transforming power of God's Word revealed to us through the Holy Scriptures.
My history of abortion is, indeed, a part of my past, a segment of my life; but viewed in light of God's forgiveness, has now been covered in hope, joy, and peace.
The assuring words of Hebrews 10:21-23 read, "And since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful." Praise the Lord—in Christ, we are free!
Pam Raynor volunteers at a CPC as a co-facilitator for post-abortion Bible studies in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, and does public speaking for the post-abortion ministry. She is married and a mother of six children.