The following is the telling of "a day on the walk" by my friend author Susan Tyrell with Bound4LIFE. If you don't already follow the Bound4LIFE blog Moral Outcry, I highly recommend it! She joined us for one day and beautifully captured a day in the life...just though I'd share it with you!
12 miles in their shoes
Posted by Susan Michelle on March 29, 2012
On Tuesday I joined the Back to Life ladies and walked the whole day with them. This blog is a bit longer than usual, but I hope it conveys some of what their daily life is like and the special grace they have for this hour.
As a graduate student in Texas in 2008, I often drove 3.5 hours from College Station , TX to Lindale, TX. It takes a series of back roads to get between the two, including one merciful stretch of Interstate 45 between Normangee, TX and Buffalo, TX. Most weeks, I drove this route; on Tuesday I walked part of it as I joined my friends at Back to Life who are walking from Houston to Dallas. (Please click here if you missed our blog on what they are doing and why).
As I walked along I-45 with plenty of time to remember my drive, I wondered how many times I’d driven that same stretch of highway, as a genuine committed believer and follower of Jesus, but with no real vision for LIFE. It would be several months before my call to LIFE in late 2008. On Tuesday, as I walked up that road with the 39 women giving up their lives, comfort, and convenience to spend three weeks praying and standing for the ending of abortion, I gazed at the wildflowers and realized what God had done in me in such a short time.
I didn’t know I’d get to spend the day walking with them until last week so there was no time for training. I happened to be in the area on vacation, and, thanks to their graciousness, was able to schedule a day to walk with them. The walk was one of their shorter ones so far, 12.4 miles, mostly hills (!), which don’t look too big until you walk them. Someone (me!) was ill-prepared for a 12-plus mile walk in the heat (and I have the sunburn to prove it), but what I learned was worth every one of those 20,000-plus steps.
There are things I wish I could convey to you. I know my words can’t do this movement justice but walking in their shoes for one day I learned many things I want you to know. I knew some of the girls beforehand, but even the ones I did know, I’d not spent much time with. What I saw was beautiful.
For over 12 miles these girls walked in total unity, they sang worship and praise songs at the top of their lungs, sometimes with dance motions as if they were in church, rather than walking uphill on an interstate feeder road. They prayed, they laughed. No one complained. No one snapped at anyone else. This wasn’t a workout; it was vision for LIFE and 11 days and over 140 miles in, it was still going strong. They weren’t putting on a show for their guest; they were living their call before the God who has called them.
Every so often a volunteer car came along holding up a few fingers “three!” And three girls who needed to be taken to the restroom would get in the “go car” and be shuttled to the RV. They’d come right back and rejoin the line, often before I knew they were missing. A couple who had been sick or injured still walked most of the way, even when they had to rest in a car for a while. Another car with more kind people toted water, fruit, protein bars–and encouraging words. Every time they went by me they’d ask how I was doing. As I walked along with the girls I’d fall in line with a few different ones each time, catching up with some from when I lived in Kansas City, getting acquainted with others I only knew from Facebook, and meeting some for the first time. It all felt like I was walking down the road with friends I’d known forever. We were, for that day, all in it together. I wasn’t treated like an outsider, even though I’d had no idea of the training and gruel of their days. On Tuesday I was one of them and walked in their shoes.
Every morning they spend the first 39 minutes walking in single file silence. It’s a solemn start to the day, with personal worship, prayer and remembrance of why they are doing what they are doing. Later, sometimes, the word would come from the front of the line, “single file!” and each one called it back to the next person in line, usually indicating there was traffic or some other hindrance that necessitated us being in one line. Other times when they had to organize us to cross a major intersection near and exit, we’d group up while someone held a flag and crossed this mass of 39 women, and all the volunteers. It was certainly a sight! But mostly we heard honks of support, usually from truckers on the interstate; it was heartwarming. A couple times someone slowed to take pictures of us. But mostly it was just walking, praying, worshiping and remembering what the whole purpose of this walk was.
As I walked, I also observed. Whether I want to or not, I sometimes look at groups from my research background. This was no ordinary group. Any group analyst who studied them would be stunned that after 11 solid days of strenuous activity and being thrown together constantly, they were acting more like people excited to be at church on a Sunday morning than anything else.
What they do is physically hard. Texas, even in springtime, is warm, and sometimes rather rainy. It’s not for the faint of heart but their hearts soar as they do it.
It didn’t escape me the whole time that I was walking down a road I’d driven, never knowing I’d be back to walk it as a small part of a big movement. For me personally, it was a picture the Lord put before me by placing me there at that time on that road and reminding me of the road of His call to LIFE for me.
For these ladies there are many stories, all different, with one united thread: All have a story that called them to LIFE, some are tragic and have been redeemed; all are hopeful. Perhaps that’s why an outsider could come in halfway through and walk the day as if we were all connected: Because that’s the part of the story no group dynamics research can detail well. It’s spiritual unity, as the Psalmist says in Psalm 133:
Behold, how good and how pleasant it isFor brethren to dwell together in unity!It is like the precious oil upon the head,Running down on the beard,The beard of Aaron,Running down on the edge of his garments. It is like the dew of Hermon,Descending upon the mountains of Zion;For there the Lord commanded the blessing—Life forevermore.
Behold how good it is when the Back to Life walkers walk in unity, under an anointing and grace of prayers and LIFE forevermore!
These are strong godly women speaking out to change a generation, to reverse the culture of death. They have stepped out to take the land. My favorite moment of the day was when we had to detour because of a construction zone on the feeder road. Even the cars couldn’t come with us, so we were led around it, on the grass, and it felt like we were walking through Bible history.
My words can’t adequately convey the awe I felt with these ladies Tuesday. They feel your prayers. They get that they are being carried by a loving Father through the prayers of His children who are giving them love, prayers, and financial support. They have made the sacrifices to give up weeks of life as they know it to fight for the Life of those who may never know it.
Today is their 13th day on the open road. They are well past the halfway point and are going strong. So strong! Please commit to pray for them as they finish strong as well. This seemingly small act from us is a huge surge of strength to them. Each walker will tell you it’s not their physical prowess that is carrying them but the spiritual strength the grace and prayers.
Thank you, ladies, for letting me walk in your shoes for a day; than you for standing for LIFE in such a powerful way!
Walkers who arrived waiting for the others at the finish point for day 11.
Editor’s note: Each day Back to Life webstreams live three times a day, as well as provides a prayer guide for their prayer focus, so you can join them even from afar.