Elizabeth sat in front of the mirror applying her makeup. She caught a glimpse of her husband standing in the doorway.
“Jim, did you set out the appetizers for me?”
He raised an eyebrow. “This isn’t a party you know.”
“I know that. I just want things to be perfect for our first meeting.”
“How many people are coming to this, uh meeting?”
“I invited five women. It’s a bible study for empty-nesters. If the women like it, Pastor Williams might ask you to hold one for the men.”
Her husband sighed. They both paused when the door chimes began to play. “I’m going to go answer that.”
Elizabeth cradled her bible in her lap and closed her eyes. “Lord, please bless this meeting tonight. Let Your Spirit reveal what You want for this group of women. Amen.”
Jim re-entered the room. “Who did you say these women were again?”
Now it was Elizabeth’s turn to raise an eyebrow. “They are empty-nesters like us.”
“They look more like fledglings to me,” he murmured.
“What?” The familiar chime sounded again. “Jim, I can’t get prepared if you stay in here. Go answer the door.”
She shook her head and flipped through her notes. Taking a deep breath, Elizabeth gathered her things and went out to see her guests. She met Jim in the hallway.
“I think there’s something you ought to know—”
“Jim, you really are being a poor host tonight. Is everyone seated?”
She kissed his cheek. “Thanks dear. I can take it from here.”
He stayed long enough to hear her bubbly laugh catch in her throat. Then he tiptoed away.
There, on the living room sofa, sat five middle-aged women from her church. On the floor, sat five very pregnant teenage girls she had never seen before.
One girl raised her hand. Elizabeth motioned for her to speak. “I was told that this class started at seven o’clock. I’ve got to get home by eight-thirty or my mom will freak.”
“And exactly what class are you here for?” Elizabeth sat down before her legs gave out.
“Duh, we are here for the Lamaze class.”
She eyed her church members, but they sat like statues—their mortified looks frozen on their face.
“I think you have the wrong house. This is a bible study meeting for women whose kids have left the nest…so to speak.”
The girl that spoke started to get up. Her ample belly caused her to fall into one of the women on the couch. “You all are church folk? Let’s go girls.”
“Wait a minute.”
One of the statues began to speak. “What are you running here, Elizabeth? Clearly they don’t care about God.”
“Why is that, Miss Church Lady? For your information, I do care about God. I just don’t think He cares much about me.” The girls walked toward the door.
“God does care about you. Maybe that’s why you’re here.” Elizabeth turned back to the church women. “I think the girls should stay.”
“They are pregnant. Odds are they are not married. You know what the Bible says about that. We may be old, but I don’t think the Bible has changed.” The outspoken woman crossed her arms.
Elizabeth’s smile returned. “The study tonight was to be about God’s mercy. Evidently, God thought that we needed a demonstration to go along with the lesson. The bible hasn’t changed. But, we are not so old that we can’t extend the mercy that Jeremiah talked about in the book of Lamentations.
“We’ve all wanted someone to look beyond our mistakes and see us for who we really are. We also know what it’s like to be a scared first-time mom. These girls need Lamaze coaches and it would seem that we need to go over that study on mercy. Can we all give it a try?”
Elizabeth scanned the room, waiting for a reply from either group. The teenagers were the first to respond.
“No one’s ever asked us to stay. They figure we must be a bunch of messed up girls to be pregnant and they look the other way. It’s like you said—we’ve all made mistakes. I think I want to hear more about God’s mercy. Maybe it’ll get my mom to stop crying when she thinks about the baby.”
The church women moved to their knees on the floor.
“Jim! We’re going to need some pillows.”
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