The doctor’s office was a free standing red-brick building. The roof and trimming were painted in white. There were shrubs on each side of the sidewalk that led to a large porch with an overhang. It was very inviting. Comfortable.
Max watched from across the street as people came and went. Some were alone. Some had friends or families with them. Different people with different problems. All hurting in some form or another.
Max watched. And waited.
“I’m leaving, Mom.”
“Wait, honey.” Her mother hurried into the hallway that led to the front door. She was still in the process of getting dressed as she stopped to talk to her daughter one last time before she left. “You have everything?”
Suzie Thorton rolled her eyes and she held up her notebook and two textbooks. “I have everything.”
“I have a few dollars. I’ll get something.”
He mother walked over to her and grabbed her face with both hands. She kissed her daughter’s forehead. “Okay, then. Have a good day, huh?”
Suzie smiled. “I will, Mom.” She turned and opened the door. She was about to step outside when she turned back around. She looked once more at her mom.
Mom looked at her daughter. “Something else?”
Suzie hesitated. “Uh, no. I guess not.”
Her mom smiled. “I love you, you know?”
“You sure everything’s okay? You’ve seemed a little down the last couple of days.”
“Nah. I’m okay.”
“Alright, then. Have a good day at school.”
“I will, Mom. I will.”
Suzie closed the door behind her and headed toward the street. She got to the end of the sidewalk and took a right.
Her school was to the left.
Suzie stood across the street of the doctor’s office. She didn’t notice Max until he spoke.
“Kind of scary, huh?”
She jumped a bit as she turned and saw Max standing next to her. “Wha…? I’m sorry?”
Max turned and looked at the red building with the white trim. “Not having anyone you can talk to about what’s going on. At least, not anybody you think you can talk to.”
Suzie had never seen this stranger before, yet somehow felt compelled to get in on the conversation. She wanted so desperately to talk to someone. But still, a “Yeah,” was all she could muster.
“Then again,” continued Max. “Maybe they’ve been there all along …”
He let the sentence trail off.
Suzie completed it. “And I was just too afraid to tell them. Too afraid how mad they’d be. What they’d say.” She fell silent. Then added. “What they’d do.”
Max shrugged. “That when the dust finally settled, and you found out how much they really loved you, that they’d want you to keep the baby.”
She shook her head. “But I can’t. I’m too young.”
Max smiled. “Will you take a walk with me, Suzie?”
He knows my name. Knows I’m pregnant.
“Not far, I promise.”
Max took a step down the sidewalk and held out his hand.
Suzie, with no fear whatsoever, took it.
As soon as she grabbed Max’s hand she found herself in a hospital. There were people all around her. Doctors, nurses. Her mom and dad.
She heard a soft cry, then her mother’s voice. “Isn’t he beautiful, Stephen?”
Suzie’s dad answered. “He sure is.” He looked at his daughter and smiled. “Would you like to hold him, Suzie?”
Before Suzie could answer, the nurse walked to her side and gave her the tiny baby.
Suzie held her baby son.
She quickly pulled her hand away from Max and again they were on the sidewalk. They had only walked a few short feet.
“Are you saying that’s how it would be? That I just saw the future? I … saw my baby?”
Max started walking again. Suzie followed.
“It could be that way.” Max shrugged. “Not saying it’s going to be easy, but that moment, the one you just witnessed? That moment is happening right now, all around the world.”
Suzie stared at her feet as she walked. “But if I decide to go the other option …” her words trailed off.
Max stopped and looked at her. “I’m afraid that moment is happening all around the world, too.”
Suzie started walking again, and the words that came out of her mouth were words of thought, observation. “But it is still my choice. It’s still up to me.”
Max looked at Suzie with compassion. “It’s always been about choices. God let’s his children decide, even when the cost is so high.” He sighed. “I can’t decide for you, Suzie. I can only show you what the Master has chosen for you to see.”
Max smiled as he held out his hand. “If you want to see, there is.”
Hesitantly, Suzie grabbed his hand.
She was standing in the corner of a hospital room. There was a woman in the bed with a man sitting next to her. They were holding hands. The woman was crying.
A nurse walked in, carrying something wrapped in a blanket. She moved slowly toward the couple. She spoke quietly, in almost a whisper, to the woman. “Do you want to hold her?”
The woman looked at the husband. He squeezed her hand. The woman looked back to the nurse. “I want to. Please.”
The nurse unwrapped the lifeless body and gave it to the mother.
The mother took her into her arms.
Mother and father wept.
Suzie jerked her hand away. “Why did you show me that?”
“They didn’t have a choice,” Max said. “You do.”
“They were so sad. I couldn’t bear to watch.”
“They loved their daughter very much. The same way your parents love you. The same way you would love your child.” Max let out a small laugh. “And yet …”
Suzie looked into his eyes. “What? Yet what?”
“Even that kind of love could never compare to the kind of love the Master has for you.”
“You mean, God?”
“Yes, Suzie. I told you it was all about choices. Let me show you the only real choice that matters. Here,” he held out his hand again, “take my hand. One last time.”
The walkway was crowded with people, and Suzie found herself within the mix. They all seemed to be headed in one direction, and she had no choice but to go with the flow. The flow spilled into a large stadium area and the crowd began to part. Some to the right, some to the left. Suzie watched as everyone took a seat.
Finally, she found a seat for herself on the second row and sat down. She looked around. What a crowd! People were filing in from every entrance to the stadium. There were chairs set up on the field below, and the masses were taking those seats as well as the ones on every level above.
Suzie directed her gaze to the far end of the stadium. There was a large stage that took up the whole of the end zone. There was a podium in the middle of the stage, and there were rows of chairs behind and on each side of the podium. There was a band set up on the left side of the stage, and a massive choir filled the seats behind the stage.
The scene looked very familiar to Suzie, and as soon as her memory recalled the incident, a woman’s voice interrupted her thoughts. “Excuse me. Is anyone sitting here?”
Suzie turned to her left and found herself starring straight into her mother’s eyes.
Suzie hesitated before answering. “Uh, no. It’s not taken.”
Her mom smiled. She turned and faced the two other people that were with her. “Why don’t you go first, Suzie. Then me, then Daddy.”
Little six-year-old Suzie Thorton scooted down the isle and took her seat next to all grown-up and pregnant eighteen-year-old Suzie Thorton. The grown up Suzie stared at herself, unable to speak. The younger saw her staring. “Hi. I’m Suzie.”
She tried to speak, but still found it hard to find the words or the ability to speak to herself. She was saved by an announcement on the stage. She turned her head, grateful for the interruption.
“We want to thank you for coming out tonight. We know you will be blessed as the Reverend Billy Graham brings a message of hope and encouragement.”
Suddenly Suzie found herself right at home as the service began. Music, testimony – a turn of the head to watch her family – and a remembrance of a time long ago.
Finally, the Reverend was introduced.
A hush fell over the crowd as Billy Graham walked to the pulpit. A soft breeze fell on Suzie as she listened to the message. A message she’d heard years ago, a message she was hearing again for the first time …
“Every one of us has sinned before God.”
“Jesus died on the cross to take your sin away.”
“He alone offers hope for today and eternal life for tomorrow.”
“You can come to him now. Today. Just as you are.”
Suzie looked over at her family. Her mom and dad were listening intently, while the younger version of her was busy with a coloring book that sat in her lap. She stopped coloring long enough to look up and smile at the older Suzie Thorton, just as the teenager let go of Max’s hand.
The tears were running down her cheek as Max spoke.
“It’s about choices, Suzie. He loves you. He forgives you. And he died for you. So now the question becomes, which choice will you make? It’s your choice, Suzie Thorton. Your choice.”
Suzie continued to watch as Max slowly disappeared before her eyes. Suddenly, she found herself right where she had been standing when she met Max. Across the street, looking at the doctor’s office, contemplating her next move.
She took one last look, then turned to her left, and headed for school.
A year later…
The pastor stood at the pulpit and smiled at the congregation. He looked to the young girl by his side and at the baby in her arms.
“This is a very special day today. As most of you know, Suzie Thorton gave her life to Jesus a year ago today, and all have witnessed what a great testimony she has become. Her spirit and attitude will brighten anyone’s day. Just hang around her for two minutes and you’ll know what I mean.”
Suzie blushed as the Pastor continued.
“And now it is with great honor and glory to our Heavenly Father that we dedicate the latest addition of the Thorton household to the Lord.” He turned to Suzie and she took a step closer.
Words were exchanged and vows were made.
A promise to love.
To teach him about God.
To tell him about Jesus.
Finally, when all was said and done, the Pastor turned and faced the congregation with baby in outstretched hands. “Church, I present to you, Aaron Maxwell Thorton.”
A note from the author:
I’ve wanted to put Max in the middle of an abortion storyline for quite some time now, but never really knew where to go with it. Funny thing, when one sits down to write the story it usually takes on a life of itself, and that’s what happened here. I do want to say though; it was never my intention to “preach” to anyone. I wanted instead to accomplish what I always hope to accomplish, and that is to create a “what if” story with my favorite character that conveys the forgiveness and hope that is found in Jesus Christ.
We are all in this together. No matter what we may have done in the past, no matter where our journey has taken us, all we need is a glimpse of the only begotten Son of God, and then we let him do the rest.
Let the healing begin…
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