While Abby Johnson was attending Texas A&M, she volunteered at the local Planned Parenthood clinic. During this time, Abby had two abortions. She had the first one when she was twenty years’ old. She agreed with Mark, the father of the baby, that they weren’t ready for the responsibility of raising a child. So, he took her to the Planned Parenthood clinic in Houston to get rid of their problem. After the abortion, Abby was relieved that she could get on with her life.
Her second abortion occurred a few years’ later. This time, she was eight weeks’ pregnant and opted for a medical abortion using RU-486, the abortion pill. Abby thought that for early abortions, this medication abortion was the more private and comfortable way to go. The days that followed were sheer agony for her. She couldn’t bear the thought of going to an emergency clinic and just suffered alone. Abby was surprised that the pill caused her some genuine physical suffering and that it wasn’t a comfortable way to have an abortion after all. After about eight weeks of feeling ill, Abby was able to return to her volunteer work at the clinic.
Upon graduation, Abby accepted a job from Planned Parenthood. She worked her way up through the ranks over several years and found herself in the important but morally-challenging job of director of the clinic in Bryan, Texas.
One day, due to a staff shortage, Abby was called into the exam room to help the medical team during an abortion. As she took the ultrasound probe, Abby argued with herself thinking: “I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to take part in an abortion.” Abby could not have imagined how the next ten minutes would shake the foundation of her values and change the course of her life.
The man with the unclean spirit cried out asking Jesus what he had to do with them and if he had come to destroy them. The man shocked the crowd when he said that Jesus was the Holy One of God. This man knew that Jesus was the Messiah. The other people in the synagogue didn’t know this. So, we know that this person was possessed by the devil. The devil is trying to counteract the teaching of Jesus. He always opposes truth and the work of grace.
How would Jesus respond to this possessed person? Would Jesus or his disciples physically throw him out of the synagogue? Or, would Jesus just ignore him and talk over him? Clearly this man, the devil in disguise, represents a threat to Jesus’ authority.
After witnessing the abortion, Abby’s life wasn’t the same. She decided to quit working at the clinic before the next Saturday when they performed abortions again. She saw an old note on her desk from Elizabeth, a Coalition for Life volunteer who often was outside the clinic fence on the sidewalk. The note said: “The Lord has done great things for us and we are filled with JOY. I am praying for you, Elizabeth.” A light broke through the darkness and Abby saw with simple clarity that she was on the wrong side of the fence.
Abby knew what she had to do. She drove over to the Coalition for Life office several blocks away. When she got inside, Abby told the confused volunteers: “I want out. I just can’t do this anymore.” And, so Abby’s new life, her life of grace, her life as a pro-life advocate began. To spread her pro-life message, she wrote a book, titled Unplanned, which describes her journey from pro-choice to pro-life.
When Jesus was confronted with the man who challenged him in the synagogue, his response to the evil in his midst was quick and effective. Jesus said, “Quiet, come out of him!” Immediately, the unclean spirit came out and the man made a loud cry. With this victory, Jesus shows us that He is the Messiah, the Savior, and is more powerful than the devil.
The people were amazed by Jesus’ teaching and by his victory over the devil. They didn’t know what to make of Jesus. His fame spread throughout the whole region. Jesus victory over the devil is a sign to all of us of God’s salvation which comes to us through Jesus. Jesus’ power over evil assures us that, with his help and grace, we can throw off any demons that we may have.
The unclean man was freed from the devil after a miracle, a direct intervention of God in his life. Abby was freed from the demon and evil of abortion through the grace of God and the prayers of many, especially the Coalition for Life volunteers who picketed outside the gate.
In these troubled and confusing times, our world is crying out in pain, like the possessed man in the Gospel and like Abby who could no longer take part in an abortion. People around us are hungry to hear the message of Jesus who brings us healing, life, and peace. The world is suffering because it is under the grip of the devil who offers pain, death, and turmoil. We need a change, a transformation, a healing.
When we look at our own lives, where do we find ourselves in these two stories? Are we like Abby and the man with the unclean spirit? Are we struggling with demons in our lives? Are we like Elizabeth, the Coalition for Life volunteer? Are we helping others, through our prayers, our actions, and our example, in our daily struggles against the forces of evil? Or do we sometimes see ourselves in both places, struggling with demons while we pray for ourselves and for others? Today, may all of us resolve to support and defend the culture of life and to condemn the culture of death in our community and in our world. And may we with God’s grace throw off any demons which we may have invaded our life and embrace the healing and peace of Jesus Christ.