September/October, 1997 Volume XII Number 8

God and second chances
by Paul deParrie

"And Samson called unto the LORD, and said, O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes. And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left. And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life."
Judges 16: 28-30 (KJV)

Sometimes God gives a second chance. Not always, but sometimes.
Samson was one of the most disobedient, out-of-line people in the Bible -- at least among those who are listed as being among the "good guys." Other famous second-chancers include Jonah and Peter. I like this attribute of God's. He will do this once in a while but it would be presumptuous for me to "count on it." Numerous are the bodies of those who litter that highway -- Samuel and Judas, for instance.
Oregon has been granted a reprieve -- a second chance.
You all remember that Oregon was the first jurisdiction in the entire world to vote to allow "assisted suicide." (Holland's "legalization" is a series of loopholes created by their highest court.) Since that time, the law, formerly known as Measure 16, has been held up in courts. A federal judge put the thing on ice saying it was an unconstitutional deprivation of "equal protection." The Ninth Circuit disagreed. The lower court continued the injunction while the matter is sent to the U.S. Supreme Court. There is little hope here. The U.S. Supremes recently ruled that states may outlaw assisted suicide, but this is a far cry from saying the Constitution prohibits the taking of innocent human life. I suspect that Measure 16 would be upheld as a matter of "state sovereignty" (What a time to start invoking that concept!).
But what has been an otherwise worthless "conservative" Republican Oregon State Legislature has opened the door to God's second chance. They have voted to refer the matter to the people for a referendum vote -- a second time! The vote will be, "Do you want to repeal Measure 16?"
This is nearly unprecedented. (I think it happened once in 1909 or something.)
On the first round, the polls showed a whopping 79% favored the assisted suicide measure. By election day, the measure passed by less than 1% -- 36,000 votes. All this happened without any real visible Christian involvement. The one opposition group lamely argued that the measure didn't have enough "safeguards." (So, as long as we have enough safeguards, we can kill innocent people?) Their TV ads were very little and very late and still people were moving quickly away from legalizing assisted suicide. Even our ultra-liberal, former-emergency-room-doctor governor, John Kitzhauber, was opposed to Measure 16 because it was "flawed."
I always maintained that if the vote had been held a week later, we would have won by 1%.
At the time, I told several people that the only hope we had politically was for the Legislature to send it back to the voters. I also believed that this was too much to hope for. Well, God (again) fooled me!
Now this state is faced with the prospect of battling this out again. What a blessing!
Blessings, though, are like rain. They can be used to grow fruitful plants or weeds.

"For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned."
Hebrews 6: 7-8 (KJV)

I can only pray that -- this time -- God's people will respond. That they will act and give of themselves to take advantage of this second chance. I shudder to think of where we will go from here if the Church does not.
The machinery of opposition is already cranking up. The death squads are out there pushing their message of "freedom" and "choice." Governor Kitzhauber has suddenly decided that it wasn't so flawed after all. The thanaphiles' shrill cries that "the people had already decided this issue" fell on deaf ears (itself a miracle) among the so-called conservatives in the Oregon Legislature. But there, as always, is plenty of money for deathmongers.
What is left for the forces of righteousness is merely to weakly depend on the God of this second chance. What is left is the old dictum, Ora et labora. Pray and work.
And I ask that all of you non-Oregonians pray too. This state's law is the hole in the dike. If it is successfully plugged, the tide of death may yet be stayed. If not, your state will feel the effects.
The measure is called Measure 51. You, though being out of state, can help too. Call 503-296-0058 and find out how. It is the second chance for all of us. It may be our last.

© 1998 Advocates for Life Ministries