Word of Truth, Word of Life

by | Jul 8, 2024

How a Psalm redeemed a mom, and saved a little boy’s life.

There were only a few days left in the second semester of my junior year in college when Beth (not her true name) sat down across from me over breakfast in an empty dining hall. We had become friends during the semester because we preferred early breakfasts, when most students were still sleeping.

We frequently talked about God. Raised a Catholic, Beth had a genuine faith in Christ. She also loved her boyfriend deeply; when she talked about him her eyes lit up. They planned on marrying after she graduated—he was a year ahead of her in school. 

But this morning she didn’t have her usual smile; she was carrying a weight in her spirit that couldn’t be hidden. She wanted to talk.

“Beth, what’s wrong? Something is terribly wrong.”

“I’m pregnant, several months along—though I don’t show it. Only my boyfriend and parents know. And now you.”

She was desperate and felt I was safe, an outside voice she trusted because of my faith in Christ. Listening to her story, I silently prayed, “God, how can I mediate your presence into Beth’s life?”

This was a divine appointment.

She continued: “I told my parents when I was several months along—past the time that I could get a safe Mexican abortion—not that I want one.” Abortion was illegal in the United States in 1968; women regularly slipped down to Mexico to terminate their pregnancies.

“But my father is flying me to Sweden in a few days, where late-term abortions are performed. He’s insistent.” Beth came from a wealthy family; cost was no obstacle.

“What do you think? What should I do? I love my boyfriend. I have disappointed my parents, and my father is pressuring me. I don’t want to kill my baby. I think I’ve ruined my life.”

What did I think? I was a twenty-year-old college student, thrust into a situation way over my head. So, in my heart I prayed a desperate prayer, “Holy Spirit, show me what to say. I’m fighting for Beth, for her baby, and the baby’s father. I can’t do this, but you can.”

And then I sensed the Holy Spirit prodding me to tell her how much Jesus loved her and her baby. I didn’t condemn her, her boyfriend, or her father. I just told her how much she was loved by God.

And then the Holy Spirit gave me the perfect word, an ancient word, the word of truth: Psalm 139:13-16…

For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there were none of them.

I read the Psalm to Beth. Slowly. Without commentary. And then I prayed a short prayer with her, and she departed—looking back at me before fading away down a hall. 

I felt like I had fought for her baby’s life, for her life, for her boyfriend’s life, for her father’s soul. And I was completely powerless. “My grace is sufficient for you,” the Lord told Paul when he was reeling under satanic attack, “for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Did Beth fly to Sweden a few days later? What happened to her? The baby? The baby’s father? I wasn’t sure I’d ever know. I wondered if I’d even see her again. But I continued to pray for her.

Next fall I was walking across campus when I heard Beth call out to me. “Kevin! We need to talk.” She was smiling as she told me the rest of her story. “My family was pressuring me to go to Sweden, but as I was getting ready to board the plane the words of Psalm 139 wouldn’t leave my heart. I was as pregnant with God’s truth as I was with my baby. So, I refused to leave the tarmac, stood my ground, and told my father I was going to have my baby. It wasn’t easy.” Beth received a word of truth, and it birthed a word of life.

I was speechless. 

Then she said, “My boyfriend is my husband now, and we have a beautiful baby boy. We live in a little apartment close to campus. I’d like to show you our baby and introduce you to my husband.” 

That was the last time I saw Beth, and the only time I met her baby boy and husband. This was one of the greatest days of my life. 

Over the years I’ve wondered what happened to that little family, especially the baby boy. He’d be in his fifties today. Has he lived a full, meaningful life? Does he have a heart for God? Did he marry a lovely woman and love her? Does he have children of his own? 

I hope to meet him in the New Heavens and New Earth—one of many joyful surprises I look forward to. Until then, I hold on to one important truth from Beth’s story: God’s Word, the word of truth, is always the word of life—if you receive it, believe it, and act on it as Beth did that day on the airport tarmac. 

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