Say what you like, and many do. I have personally attended and participated in hundreds of events from coast to coast with hundreds of thousands in attendance. Presidential Inaugurations, Political rally’s, Evangelistic crusades, marches and more. Pro-life, pro-family and pro-religious freedom events that brought together Americans from all walks of life whose behavior was civil, respectful and beamed with character and integrity in every instance.
Recently, I was, along with many others leaders at the Ohio Statehouse as the Ohio House lame duck session was about to begin. There was a large crowd of pro-abortion activists chanting and screaming in support of abortion as lawmakers walked the gauntlet to the house chamber. The house quickly voted to override the Governor’s veto of the Heartbeat bill so I along with many others moved to the Senate chamber for their session.
What happened in the Senate chamber when the Heartbeat bill was defeated will live long in my memory, you see, there was a cheer. It was a very loud, a robust cheer for its defeat by one vote. I understand what it means when something you want to happen happens. I readily admit that would have rejoiced if it had passed… but the cheers, the cheers celebrating and rejoicing over death was sobering and haunting.
Cheers that celebrated the reality that 57 babies a day will continue to die! Cheers that celebrated a respected leader who mislead his colleagues and friends and betrayed the life of the unborn. Cheers that celebrated the 41,000 babies that were aborted since the governor’s veto of the Heartbeat Bill in 2016. Cheers that celebrated the unthinkable total of over 61 million aborted babies in America since 1973, a number which would increase because the Heartbeat Bill was defeated!
Cheers of death that I will never forget, yet in a very surreal sort of way that cheer took me back in time to another crowd that cheered when Pilate gave the order for Jesus to be crucified! The chill in the air, the darkening skies and the one who gave life was led to a cross to give his life a ransom for all. And I remembered Jesus words from the cross, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.” How can they, how can they actually celebrate the death of innocent life?
What occurred to me that is absolutely true about both accounts is this… The cheers of death cannot dishearten those who love God and love Life! Years ago, a small girl had been promised the privilege of climbing to a nearby hilltop where her brother enjoyed playing. But when she came within sight of the steep, rough path, she drew back in dismay. “Why, there isn’t a smooth spot anywhere. It’s all bumpy and stony!” she exclaimed. “Yes,” said her more experienced older brother, “but how else would we ever climb to the top if it wasn’t? The stones and bumps are what we step on to get there.”
Taking a stand for truth and righteousness is and has never been an easy path. In fact, it’s the most difficult and challenging of ways however, it is worth it! The encouragement from Paul’s letter to a small group of believers who were facing the threat of losing their lives for what they believed still encourages us today… “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”
As I stood by the House chamber watching the State Representatives walking in through the crowd screaming and shouting insults at them, my State Rep, Ret. Col. Terry Johnson of Ohio’s 90th District walked by me and pulled me close. He said “It’s funny that these people think they can intimidate me. They have no idea that a few years ago I was flying over Iraq in Blackhawk helicopters directly above people who would have gladly cut off my head so these people can behave like this!” I believe that to be absolutely true. I also believe that the very God that created life, gave his Son Jesus to die on the Cross and personally experience the cheers of death for them that they might have eternal life.
Gene Getz, in his book Doing Your Part wrote, “In 1924, two climbers were part of an expedition that set out to conquer Mount Everest. As far as is known, they never reached the summit; and they never returned. Somewhere on that gigantic mountain they were overpowered by the elements and died. After the failure of the expedition, the rest of the party returned home. Addressing a meeting in London, one of those who returned described the ill-fated adventure. He then turned to a huge photograph of Mount Everest, mounted on the wall behind him. “Everest,” he cried, “we tried to conquer you once, but you overpowered us. We tried to conquer you a second time, but again you were too much for us. But, Everest, I want you to know that we are going to conquer you, for you can’t grow any bigger, and we can!” Death may be cheered for a time, but life will ultimately win!
Tim Throckmorton is the former executive pastor for Plymouth Heights Church of the Nazarene in Franklin Furnace, Ohio, and Portsmouth First Church of the Nazarene. He is currently senior pastor at Crossroads Church in Circleville, Ohio.