“You did good.”

I have further Lorax ponderings. How could I not? The movie moved me… on so many levels. I just have to talk about the Once-ler once more. Because the Once-ler is me! That Once-ler is probably so many of us. And what did he do? Well, he left his home full of ambition. He had a plan and wanted to be successful. So he set off and came across something he wanted. And that’s where it began… with a want. The Truffula Trees were beautiful, and would do just fine for what he wanted to do. Now the movie and the book are slightly different, so I’ll be meshing the two. In the movie, the Once-ler sings a song to the inhabitants and actually tells them he’s going to cut down a tree. And then, why, the inhabitants of the land began singing the same tune. They all sang together. Just as it is today. If someone hears something enough times, it doesn’t seem so bad. Eventually, we all begin to sing the same song.

And so, the Once-ler started with just one. Immediately after that first tree fell, the Lorax made his appearance. “I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees.” And he was upset. Now, please don’t think I’m being irreverent here, but in the story, I see the Lorax as God. The Once-ler did something wrong, and the Lorax (God) made an appearance. He spoke to the Once-ler and told him to stop. But the Once-ler didn’t listen and continued to do what he wanted to do. And like us today, he argued. “I am doing no harm.” See, today we might say, “It’s my body, my right. I am only affecting myself.” The Lorax then said, “You are crazy with greed.” And that is the crux of the matter. Greed. Selfishness. What motivates us? Well… usually it’s self. We have a want (or we do not want) so we “take care of it.”

Once one tree was cut, it was easier to keep cutting. And the Lorax (God) kept coming… he kept speaking for those trees. “I repeat… I speak for the trees!” But like us today, the Once-ler tuned him out, “I’m busy… Shut up if you please.” We audaciously shut out the voice of God. We become busy and if we feel a twinge of our conscience, we just ignore it. Because, “I am doing no harm.” And so, it happened. The Once-ler became very successful in a worldly way. He cut down all the trees to further his business. He made more and more money. All the while the Lorax appeared… all the while he spoke for the trees… all the while the Once-ler shut his ears. Until finally, the land was desolate. The land couldn’t provide for the animals that once played in the shade and ate of the Truffula Fruits. All life left.

The Once-ler was sad as the animals left. BUT, he got busy again. He got bigger and bigger. And the Lorax kept coming. Finally, the Once-ler got mad at the Lorax (God). He had his rights, see. He didn’t want to hear, “Bad! Bad!” What’s more, he intended to go on doing just what he did. UNTIL, that last tree fell. And then what happened? He couldn’t continue with his business. All his friends and family left him behind. And there he was… all by himself. Well, it was just him and the Lorax. This time, the Lorax had nothing more to say. He had already said it all, so he simply picked himself up and flew up to the heavens. That’s when the Lorax left his message… “UNLESS.”

So what did the Once-ler do after the Lorax left him? Well, his world fell apart around him. He became a recluse shutting himself away from the world. He even boarded the windows. He was no use to anyone. There he sat, worrying away his years. The book says that he worried about it with all of his heart. You know what I think? I believe that Once-ler had such regret. I believe if he had the chance to do it again, he would do things differently. I think he repented of his ways. Because He pondered over that message left by the Lorax (God) with all of his heart. And he was ready when opportunity came knocking. He grabbed hold of it, and became that someone who cared an awful lot. He fulfilled his purpose… he didn’t let “UNLESS” pass him by.

The Once-ler is me. The Once-ler is so many of us. If we’re living with something inside us that shouldn’t be there (a regret, a secret sin, hate, etc.), then we’re separated from God. That’s what happened with the Once-ler. His relationship with the Lorax was broken. But in the end, the Once-ler did the right thing. He listened to what the Lorax said. He pondered his word, and passed on the seed. And I just love the way the movie ended. The Once-ler was no longer shut away in the dark. He walked in the light, and he watered the trees. And you know what happened? The Lorax came back. The relationship was restored. And that Once-ler laughed out loud as he hugged the Lorax. That’s when the Lorax looked at him and said, “You did good.”

Isn’t that what we all want… a restored relationship with our God. We’ve all made some sort of mistake… big and small. But some of us hide our mistakes. I did. I hid mine for over seventeen years. And they lay there deep in my heart. I may have pretended my past never happened, but it was eating away at me. Thus, the heart-exam initiated by God a few weeks back. Let us all examine our hearts to see what’s in there. Because when we get it out, and when we really turn from it (whatever it may be), and when we pass on the seeds of our knowledge, perhaps one day we’ll hear the same thing from our God as the Once-ler heard from his Lorax… “You did good.”

the Valley of Slaughter

I was uncertain about posting something. Quite frankly, it scares me. Because it’s something dark… something I’ve kept hidden for so long. Not many people know. But this morning I felt moved. After praying, I typed up this blog, crying while fingers tapped the keyboard. Crying because of something I did. Crying because I have to share it. Crying because I wonder if I will ever be completely okay.

I typed up a draft, feeling certain I would post it the next day. But as the day progressed, doubt took hold. How could I be sure I was doing the right thing? What would people think after reading it? What will my family think, if they hear of it? Will people look at me differently? And so day turned to evening, and I became even more uncertain… that is, until I watched The Lorax. Yet another child’s movie, but so deep. As I watched it, my mind drifted back to the draft I had typed earlier in the day. “Are you sure, God?” A squeezing of my heart. “But I’m scared.” More squeezing. Yes… I am to share it.

I’m not sure how many of you are familiar with this well-loved Dr. Seuss tale, but if you’re not, it’s worth both reading and watching. Basically, a guy invented something called a Thneed. But, he needed the materials to make his Thneeds. So he traveled along till he came across this beaufiful forest full of Truffula trees. He wanted the Truffula tuft, so thinking nothing of it, he chopped down a tree. He snuffed out the life of that tree without a thought… not till the Lorax made his appearance. He said, “Mister! I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees. “But the guy said he was doing no harm… he just chopped down one tree. But the Lorax knew. He said, “You are crazy with greed.” The Lorax repeated, “I speak for the trees!” But the guy was too busy, he had things to do. He shut out that voice, and set to making his own dream come true. Why, he was going to be rich. He started with one tree, but then used a device to chop down four trees at once. And so, the guy became rich. He continued to chop down trees, polluting the air… the Lorax would appear to make his plea for the trees, but the guy didn’t listen. Finally, he yelled at that Lorax, “Now listen here, Dad! All you do is yap-yap and say, ‘Bad! Bad! Bad! Bad!’ Well, I have my rights, sir, and I’m telling you I intend to go on doing just what I do!” Finally, the last tree fell. Well, there was nothing left to say, so the Lorax picked himself up and left. There were no more trees to speak for. But, he did leave a pile of rocks with one word – UNLESS.

The guy who destroyed the trees pondered that phrase for years (he’s called the Once-ler, by the way), and when he finally had a visitor he figured out what it meant. “UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” And so, the Once-ler let a Truffula Seed fall into the hands of his visitor. He said it was the last one, and exhorted the visitor to, “Treat it with care. Give it clean water. And feed it fresh air. Grow a forest. Protect it from axes that hack. Then the Lorax… may come back.”

Sound like a lot of rambling here? Read the above again, but picture unborn babies instead of trees. And me? UNLESS someone cares a whole awful lot, nothing will change. I’m that someone and I have a seed… See, I have first-hand knowledge… I know all about snuffing out the life of an unborn baby. And so I need to plant this seed, of what I know, among those who will listen. Because we don’t have a Lorax, who speaks for the trees. We have a God, the God, and He speaks for the babies. He spoke for them through His prophet, Jeremiah:

“And they have built up the high places of Tophet, which is the valley of the Son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, nor did it come into My heart. Therefore behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “when it will no more be called Tophet, or the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter; for they will bury in Tophet until there is no more room.” Jeremiah 7:31,32

My mother-in-law educated me this morning about King Manasseh, who was evil. He “made his son pass through the fire.” That means he instated the practice of killing the firstborn children, sacrificing them to the god of Molech. Manasseh was the king… so the nation followed his lead. God’s people killed their firstborn babies. It was culturally accepted. Pretty much like today. And like then… we will bury until there is no more room. When I heard the term, the Valley of Slaughter, it struck a chord with me. I actually thought, “Hmmm… would make a good name for a book concerning abortion and our nation (if there’s not already one out there).” But no… now I see it is to be the title of one of my blogs. A fitting title for a blog about abortion.

Abortion is part of my past… it’s part of who I am today. I have certainly walked through the Valley of Slaughter by way of my selfish and greedy actions. And I just have to wonder if that’s the reason darkness enshrouds me today. See, I’ve been striving. I’ve been seeking God with my whole heart. I want to do what He wants me to do. I want to be pleasing to Him. And yet, I just feel so bad so much of the time. I can’t understand it. I thought I dealt with the abortions this past September. I thought I was done with that. So why do I still struggle? Why then, after talking with my mother-in-law about abortion, was I in tears as I prayed. Why did I have nothing but cries to offer up to God?

When I wrote a draft this morning, I wasn’t sure what the point of it was. Because I’m not sure that I have an answer or the encouragement that someone needs to hear. I thought that perhaps it’s simply something God wants me to be honest about. Because it’s been hidden for so long. See, abortion is not something we all want to talk about… especially when it’s part of our pasts. But God’s word assures me that whatever’s been said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what I’ve whispered behind closed doors will be shouted from the housetops for all to hear! (Luke 12:3). So I thought that maybe this was my rooftop moment. A time to come out of the closet, if you will. Finally, the moment had come to bring to light what was done behind closed doors. I thought perhaps that was the point of today’s blog.

But now I see. God spoke to me through The Lorax, of all things. UNLESS someone cares to speak up for those unborn babies, nothing will change. He’s already spoken, and He’s waiting for us to do the same. And I can speak from firsthand knowledge… because I know that when you do such a thing, you don’t just kill a baby. You also kill part of yourself. Oh, you can hide it away and pretend it never happened. But it colors your whole life. Jeremiah 7:34 says it all, “Then I will cause to cease from the cities of Judah and from the streets of Jerusalem the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride. For the land shall be desolate.” And this is just how I feel sometimes.

I have my good days. I have whole seasons of joyfulness and mountaintop experiences with God… But then I seem to slip up. I always seem to fall back down that mountain into the valley… that Valley of Slaughter. But for those days when I fall, I’ll cling to His promises…

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:1-4

When the darkness comes, I’ll cling to God’s promises. His word assures me that He is with me. He is in my midst. He is my shepherd, and He will comfort me. Perhaps someone else needs to know His promises today.

If you know someone who needs to hear this message, be that someone who cares an awful lot – and pass it on. UNLESS you do, they may never know.