Maternal Instinct

A couple of years ago, I was working as a vet tech at a regional equine hospital during the spring foaling season. A foal came in with its dam due to an illness, and unfortunately the foal had to be humanely euthanized after trying our best to correct the problem. Now, the protocol for such an event (since, in veterinary medicine we can’t explain things to the mare) is to perform the euthanasia and leave the mare with her deceased foal for a few hours to give her time to understand. Then, either the foal is removed, or the mare is transferred to a different stall. In this case, I was instructed to move the mare. So, I clipped a lead rope on her and she followed me calmly and willingly across the facility. Until she saw another mare and foal; then she pulled at the lead, and turned to try to go back to her old stall (where her foal was still laying). She whinnied frantically and kicked me in the hip. I was fine, but very upset. What is wrong with her?? She KNOWS her foal is dead, why freak out now?? I wondered. I’d understand soon enough.

This past spring, my husband and I welcomed our first child to our family. However, in February of 2018, I had a miscarriage with my first pregnancy at about 6 weeks along. I was shocked at how heartbroken I was.  Not because I don’t value life, but because I thought that since I only knew of the pregnancy for a few short weeks I should have gotten over it pretty quickly. When I first realized that I was in the beginning stages of miscarriage I was devastated. The only way I knew how to describe how I felt was the way that mare panicked and cried out when she left her dead foal behind.

I felt this horrible maternal instinct, but had nowhere to go with it. For the next six months I wanted desperately to have a baby, and cried over what felt like hundreds of negative tests. Every pregnancy announcement and image of moms with their kids killed me, and every time I felt that way I understood a little better why that mare kicked me that spring day a year or so before. Maternal instinct isn’t just for people. God created animals to feel that powerful, protective desire as well.

It’s for that reason that the recent battle between pro-life and pro-choice has me so upset. If I hurt so badly after knowing about my baby’s existence for only 2 weeks, how could a mother go on living life normally after aborting her child at any stage, but especially late term? Even the animal kingdom knows better than to abandon their young and not feel pain over it. I even thought that once I had my son in my arms this spring, I would recover more completely from my losses, but I was wrong. I still mourn my miscarriages. It still hurts; I expect it always will. After all, it’s not just about how many kids are in your family pictures. It is about life itself.

Of course, this is only my story. There are many others with similar and even more painful stories out there. God declares that children are a heritage of the Lord (Psalm 127:3), and they are to be valued! The price to pay for hurting one of God’s precious children is high: Luke 17:2 says “It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea than that he should offend one of these little ones.” That’s a very vivid picture of the absolute sanctity of life.

I certainly don’t have all the answers to society’s problems, or even the answer to the abortion crisis happening right now, but this I know for sure: life is precious. Deep down, we all know it. Even the animal kingdom knows it. We may not ever succeed in improving the society we live in, but may God help Christians to hold fast to His Word and value our children the way He calls us to.

Suzie Altena

Keep Your Laws Off My Body

“Keep your laws off my body.”  For years, women have been proudly repeating this phrase.  It can still be seen all around us – on the bumper sticker of the car in front of you, on the t-shirt of a woman you see in the grocery store, on the sign you pass walking across the college campus.  The phrase is repeated endlessly to condone abortion, the murder of human beings that hardly causes the world to bat an eye anymore.  

This phrase is one that reflects the world’s proud and selfish attitude.  The key word in the phrase is “my,” and it’s a word that rolls from the tongue so easily.  The world loves to say “mine.” My body. My rights. My choices. My life. Mine.  

But this post isn’t meant to be an argument against abortion, or even a criticism of the pride and self-centeredness of our society.  It’s so easy for us to point out at the world and criticize what we see.  Abortion. Fornication. Lying. Cheating. Stealing.  The finger-pointing could go on and on, but that’s not the purpose of this post.

Instead, let’s turn that pointing finger around and look back at ourselves.  How often do we see ourselves falling into the sin of pride?  It doesn’t take long to realize that the self-centered attitude that is so easy for us to criticize in the world around us can often be found in our very own hearts!  

Sure, we don’t have bumper stickers or t-shirts proclaiming, “Keep your laws off my body,” but do we obey God’s words to bind His commandments upon our fingers and write them upon the tables of our hearts (Proverbs 7:3)?  He tells us in Deuteronomy 11 to “bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes” and in Proverbs 3:3 to “bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart.”  Do we obey these commands? Do we make God’s law an important part of our lives, keeping His Word always in front of our eyes, around our necks, on our hands, wrapped around our fingers, and written on our hearts?  Or do we find that old man of sin inside of us proudly telling God to keep His laws off of our lives and our bodies?

Jesus gave His own body, even His own life, for us, in obedience to His Father’s will.  He had a crown of thorns pressed into His head, stripes beaten onto His back, nails put through His wrists, and His side pierced with a spear.  Jesus willingly gave up His own body, and we are called to do the same.  Are we willing to do this?  Surrender everything that we have to God’s will?  Or do we obey God’s commandments only when it doesn’t require too much of us?  Do we give every part of ourselves to God every second of our lives, or do we sometimes claim our lives as our own?  Do we call Sunday the Lord’s Day but then call every other day of the week “my day?”  Maybe we start and end our day in devotion to God, but somehow in between we end up living for self.  We don’t like when God interferes with our time.  Our plans.  Our bodies.  

We ought not to be this way!  We must confess with Q&A 1 of the Heidelberg Catechism that “I, with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.”  Our time, our bodies, our talents, our lives, are not our own!  They belong to Him, and we are to use them not self-servingly, but for Him.  

“For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” I Corinthians 6:20

Amy Kaiser

Walking through the Stages of Life: Babies (1)

In the next few weeks, we will be studying the various stages of one’s life.  The Bible has much to say about each age – encouragement, warnings, pictures, and exhortations.  Today, we begin with the earliest stage – babies.

Father and mother find out they are expecting a baby, and the whole process begins.  For nine months, the Creator carefully forms the baby with His own hand, shaping and forming little arms, hands, legs, and feet.  Fearfully and wonderfully made, since the moment of conception!  So much for the horrid, disgusting sin of abortion.  Instead of killing an “unwanted thing” in the womb, our response at the news of pregnancy is, “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made”!

Finally, after nine joyful, but also wearying months, the nervous parents pack what they need and travel to the hospital.  The labor pains progressively become worse.  The mother-to-be clasps the rail of her bed, sweating, pain stitched across her face, exhausted, but determined to deliver the baby.

Such pain does a woman endure during labor, that the Bible often uses the pain of childbirth in other contexts.  The apostle Paul described his labors among the Thessalonians as a woman in travail (I Thess. 2:9).  He labored among the church day and night, preaching the gospel of God.  In John 16, we read that Jesus would leave His disciples for a time – they would weep and lament, as a woman in travail.  But then, when they would see Jesus again, their hearts would rejoice, just as a woman rejoices at the birth of her child.

Then the baby is delivered.  New life!  A miracle!  A living, breathing, thrashing, crying baby has come into the world.  Intricately woven and fashioned for nine months, finally a beautiful human life emerges.

Birth is a breath-taking picture of the reality of regeneration (John 3).  Every elect child of God is born again – raised from the deadness of sin, and given new life.  If you ever question whether regeneration is God’s work alone, or man’s work plus God’s work, look upon a baby – helpless and needy; what does a baby have to do with its own conception and survival?  Neither do we raise ourselves from the dead.  This is God’s work – a miracle!  Think upon these things the next time you see a baptism, or hold a baby in your arms.

Now born, the baby craves the nourishing milk of his/her mother.  Without this milk, the baby cries and fusses.  But with regular feedings, the small child grows, develops, and builds up its defenses against sickness and disease.  When the hungering stomach is filled again with food, the baby can sleep contentedly and peacefully.

God’s Word, picking up on this familiar activity of breastfeeding, commands us to desire the sincere milk of the word, that we might grow by it (I Peter 2:2).  Are we hungering and thirsting after the Word of God as a newborn babe?

May God use pregnancy and childbirth to stamp upon our hearts and minds the spiritual realities to which they point.

RB