A Moment of Clarity at Upward

Every January we are reminded of the anniversary of the Roe versus Wade decision. A black mark on our culture that opened the door to abortion on demand. The numbers since that decision in 1973 are staggering… sobering… and incredibly troubling. But nevertheless, this is the situation we live in.

January is also the month that our Upward basketball and cheerleading season starts. Our sanctuary, better known as the gym on Saturday, is filled with children running frantically while at the same time trying to control an ever elusive basketball! Our facility is also filled with parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles cheering on these aspiring athletes. It is fun to watch! My eyes caught Jayden, who is now 7, (an avid Eagles fan:) running and playing hard for his team. Jayden is, to me, a wonderful story of grace. That story includes his mom Jess, his dad Larry, and a difficult conversation we had with two good friends 8 years ago.

Jeff and Jill sat down with us to let us know that their daughter (one of our daughters dearest friends), who was then a junior in high school, was pregnant. That conversation is always hard, always involves tears and fears, but both Jeff and Jill were seeking the Lord's wisdom and have always been advocates for life, and certainly for their children.
The vast majority of teens in that situation will choose to quietly abort and will be encouraged by parents and counselors to do so. They will cite nonsense like you are too young, your whole life is ahead of you, and in the end you will be better off without this burden. It’s the way of our culture. It’s all about us.

Jess felt differently. With the encouragement of her family, and Larry, she had this beautiful baby, who is an absolute gift to the family! She and Larry are not married, but they are proving to be great parents, who probably grew up much faster because of the circumstances, but who are living without the numerous regrets that, praise God, they did not even have to know.
Has it been easy? Of course not. Tough seasons of being a teenage mom and dad, sacrificing some things your friends were doing, missing out on things along the way because of a sick baby, too many scenarios to count! But seeing Jayden flourish and bless the family is, as the commercials say, priceless.

Every time I run into Jess, Jayden or Larry, I’m reminded of the fact that godly and wise choices bless all the people around us. I’m also reminded that while theirs was an embarrassing, difficult, and dicey junior and senior year of high school, The Lord we serve is able to “work all things together for good to those who love him”. Are Larry and Jess perfect young people? Of course not, but they have made and followed through on a godly choice in a beautiful way.
In this month when we mark one of the darkest decisions in our nations history, seeing Jayden on the basketball court with his infectious smile and athletic ability is a glorious reminder that not bowing to the culture or the darkness, will allow us see the joy and beauty of our Lords plan. As Christ followers, may we continue to choose life. As we do, we also choose joy!

Pete Nelson