Josh jerked straight up from a deep sleep. Sweat drained down the front of his t-shirt as his fingers searched for the comfort of her swollen body. When he realized she wasn’t there, he called her name in concern. He was certain her cry had awakened him.
Mary was his young bride. They had married the day after her graduation, and now, seven months later, their child was growing strong inside her. The clock glared at him, pronouncing the arrival of Christmas morning, but there was no ‘merry’ without Mary lying beside him.
He reached for the lamp switch on her side of the bed. The sight of her, on the floor, balled up in pain, stole the fog of sleep from his mind. In one swift movement, he was kneeling at her side.
“Mary? Mary, what’s wrong?” His arms encircled her in a tender embrace.
“Josh, it hurts so bad. I think it’s time.” She placed her hands behind his neck and attempted to sit up.
“But, he’s not due for another week. Are you sure?” He gently lifted her in his arms as she cried out from the pain of another contraction. “I’ll take that as a yes.”
He never thought to question how they had managed to get from the bedroom to the front entrance of the emergency room so quickly. Adrenaline pushed all logical thought from his mind. Josh swept Mary into his arms once more and rushed inside.
“Miss, can you help us? My wife is in labor.” Josh was desperate for a quick response from the desk nurse.
The nurse looked up slowly and smiled. “Merry Christmas, Sir, but I’m afraid I can‘t help you. We’ve just had a major pile up on the interstate and there is no way we will have room to see your wife this morning. You’ll have to go to Mercy. It’s only twenty minutes from here. I’ll even call and let them know you’re on the way.”
Josh wondered if God was punishing them as he helped Mary into the front seat of their car. Seeing her double over in pain from another contraction brought tears to his eyes. He began to have a serious discussion with The Almighty while navigating through the heavy traffic of downtown.
“OK, I know I don’t deserve anything from You. I’m no good and I know it. She’s in this mess because I talked her into getting pregnant. It was the only way her parents would let me marry her. She’s always saying how guilty she feels. She’s got this whole relationship thing going on with You that I don’t get, but I love her so much. Please don’t punish her because of me.”
As Josh reached the edge of town, Mary cried out again. “Josh, Your going to have to pull over. I don’t think our little Jessie can wait for Mercy.”
“Can’t you hold him in a little longer?” Josh felt like his heart would explode with fear.
“PULL OVER NOW, JOSH!”
There was only one building in sight on the road Josh had taken. Thankfully, the abandoned warehouse was open. He carried Mary inside and laid her on a bed of shredded papers.
“I don’t know what to do, Mary.” He knelt beside her and wiped a bead of sweat from her forehead.
“Pray, Josh. God can take care of us. Let Him take control.” Her face glowed.
Josh wanted to pray with her, but she was fading from his sight. He wondered if he was fainting. The Eagles were singing “Please Come Home For Christmas”?
Josh jerked up to a sitting position. His fingers shook as he felt for the comfort of Mary’s swollen body. When he realized she wasn’t there, tears threatened to fall along with the sweat beading on his face.
It was frighteningly eerie to continue hearing the Eagles, so Josh quickly hit the snooze button. He slowly pulled his legs from the bed. He knew he should look to the floor for Mary, but the thought of her lying there in pain was more than he could bear.
“Merry Christmas, Josh!” Mary walked into the room with a tray of coffee and cookies. She had never looked more beautiful. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
“Mary, I think you need to come tell me more about this God of yours.”
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