One day, a beautiful red fox was running through the woods back to his home, when he was stopped in his tracks by the whiff of a plump, juicy mouse.
With his nose leading the way toward the tempting fragrance, he wandered from the familiar path, stepping slowly, sniffing the air, and breaking fallen branches under his paws. Suddenly, a pain he had never felt before shot up his back leg and into his body. White-hot paralyzing pain! He couldn’t move. Looking down, he could see the rusty metal teeth of the hunter’s trap buried deep into his fur. He was caught. He was scared. He had been told about the hunter’s trap before, warned by others about the scent of the bait luring foxes off the path into certain death. He knew that time was running out before the hunter came to collect him, and he had to find a way out. Any way.
A few minutes later, a crow swooped down to see what all the commotion was about. She saw the fox’s predicament and agreed that the fox needed to be rid of the trap.
“I know it’s difficult to consider, but you may have to think about chewing off your leg. You really don’t have any other option. The hunter will come this way at dusk, and if he finds you, you’ll be dinner! That’s what I would do if I were you. Well, I have to be on my way. Best of luck to you in whatever you decide.”
The fox didn’t want to chew off his leg, but he didn’t want to die, either. He was left all on his own to struggle with the tormenting decision, when came along a proud buck.
Seeing the fox’s predicament, he agreed that the animal’s plight was unfortunate, but he was also in a hurry to get back to his own thicket.
“Say, young fox, I see you’re in quite a poor situation, there.”
“Yes, I am! The hunter is coming, and I have to chew off my leg to be free of this trap.”
This idea troubled the buck greatly. He believed that animals should have all of their legs and would hate to see this beautiful fox lose his. So he proceeded to explain to him what a bad idea that was. The buck described to the fox, in graphic detail, how painful and bloody that would be; how he’d never be able to run the same way again, and how, if he valued his leg, he probably shouldn’t have strayed from the path in the first place.
All of this, though, the fox already knew. But none of it changed the fact that the hours were quickly passing away, and the hunter was coming.
After leaving behind his best advice, the buck loped away, proud that he was able to speak such wisdom to the fox, while fox looked down at his increasingly painful leg, still stuck in the grip of the trap. He wanted to live. He pleaded heaven for a magical wand that could take him back to the way things were just a few short hours ago. But no such thing existed. He knew what he had to do. Taking a deep breath, he placed his teeth around his leg and prepared for the first bite, when he heard a voice behind him.
“Hello”, came the calming voice of a large white owl. “Looks like you need help.”
“Yes, I am caught in this trap and time is running out. I have to chew off my leg, it’s the only way out. Can you help me?”
The owl’s heart broke when he saw the wounded leg in the trap, and he had compassion for him.
“The only way out, you say? Hmmm…. What if there were another way? What if I could help you open the trap? Then you would be free of the hunter, and keep your leg.”
The fox looked at the owl in hopeful disbelief. “How is that possible?”
“I am going to call for the other owls, and we’re going to work together to free you from the trap. Then, I will stay with you and care for you until your leg is healed and you are able to run again, however long that takes. I am not going to leave you.” Tears welled up in the fox’s eyes while the owl let out a loud “HOOT HOOT” into the sky. Within minutes, half a dozen owls surrounded the fox, feeding him, and offering words of encouragement. Working in unison, they opened the grip of the trap long enough for the fox to slip out his wounded foot.
“Dusk is coming, and we have to get you moving. Let us help you walk.” Steadying the fox on all sides, they walked him to safety, where they would care for him for weeks to come.
In 2009 I started volunteering at my local Pregnancy Center, where I now work. I had been raised in a “Pro-life” Christian home, and much like the buck, had a little more passion than compassion when it came to the reality of unplanned pregnancy and abortion. I had no idea just how much my whole perspective was about to be rocked.
I remember sitting in a little room, fresh out of training, with my first client whose situation was just impossible. Devastatingly heartbreaking. I realized that I had nothing to offer to her. NOTHING. We had facts and stories and pictures and practical baby items galore; but for her specific situation, that meant nothing. It was the first time that I was ever able to see why women really have abortions, and I cried. “Well, Let me know if there’s anything I can do for you, I’d love to see you again.” It was a ‘Be warm and well-fed’ as she headed out the door.
It didn’t take too long before I started to notice a common message coming from every young woman making plans for an abortion:
“I have no choice”, they would tell me, “my boyfriend will leave me….parents will kick me out…. I won’t finish college… I am homeless… my husband isn’t the father… my dad is an elder in our church….” It was clear that while the word “CHOICE” was the mantra of the efforts to keep abortion legal, these women are having abortions because they feel they have no other choice. Their situations, like my first client’s, all seemed impossible.
“A woman doesn’t want an abortion like she wants an ice cream cone or a Porsche, but like an animal caught in a trap who wants to gnaw off its own leg…”
– Frederica Mathewes-Green
Many studies out there seem to echo this same discovery, including this one, from the Vitae Research Foundation, which says that women view an unplanned pregnancy as death to their very life as they perceived it to be, and thus abortion is seen as the least of three evils in an act of self-defense.
The abortion industry, as my boss pointed out, then twists and parrots the words of Jesus in Matthew 11, “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” But the “Rest” that is offered is death itself.
What is the Church to do?
If you’re thinking the story about the fox sounds familiar, you’re right. Jesus told it a little differently in the parable of the Good Samaritan, but the call to action – to love radically – remains the same: “Go and do likewise.” Luke 10:37.
It’s tempting to be the buck, believing in the sanctity of human life, yet never having been faced with that decision ourselves. We give out truth without love (usually very well meaning). I personally believe this is where those we see holding graphic abortion signs usually are. I have had the opportunity to speak to some of them, and their hearts are often not intending to condemn but to educate women with the truth of what abortion is in hopes that knowledge will change their minds. The problem with this is that all the truth in the world doesn’t speak to the very real crisis they are in at that moment and is almost always counter-productive to their cause, only hurting women further.
God is calling His people to be Good Samaritans when it comes to abortion-vulnerable women. One of the greatest arguments that abortion proponents have is, “Okay, say she has the baby. Then what? Are you going help her for the next 18 years?” The church needs to be the answer to “Then what?” We need to shift the fight from making abortion illegal, to making it unnecessary; being moved by radical compassion from our comfortable lives and walk alongside these precious women (and fathers, too) in a community of support, help, hope, and acceptance.
Everyone has something they can offer to a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy; and when we all put our “somethings” together, we can provide her with a way out of the trap and into true freedom.
What do you have?
If we truly long to see our communities become free from abortion, we need to ask God to make us owls and answer the call to “Go and do likewise.”