The Deliverer

I’ve been very lax at posting here lately. Mostly just plain busyness. But this month I want to share a story I wrote years ago. So long ago, in fact, that it took a good deal of editing before I was willing to post it here. I hope it turns your thoughts to the Savior. Have a blessed holiday season!

nativity

The Deliverer

Rebecca collapsed into a chair and heaved a deep sigh. She tucked a few strands of graying hair behind her ears and mopped at the perspiration on her forehead with an edge of her garment. Never could she remember such a week! The town was bustling like a port city, and business was booming!

She allowed herself only a short break before hoisting her ample body from the chair. Supper preparations must begin for those guests taking a meal. She had barely begun when there came yet another knock on her door. Wiping her hands on her apron, she hustled to answer it but saw the stooped figure of her husband already there.

“I’m sorry,” he was saying, “we can’t help you,” and he started to close the door. But someone on the other side pushed it open again.

“Please,” spoke a desperate male voice. “Can’t you offer us anything? I have money. I’ll give you double your price.”

Curiosity piqued, Rebecca glanced around her husband. Before her stood a strong young man, very dark, and covered with dust. He looked like all the others. Then she saw his companion. A woman, a girl really, sat upon a donkey. Her brown hair hung in damp strands around her face, and her shoulders slumped in exhaustion over a very swollen belly. Rebecca clucked her tongue in motherly concern.

“I really am sorry, but I let out my last room days ago. You’ll have to look elsewhere,” her husband said and closed the door firmly.

As he turned to walk away, Rebecca placed the whole of her bulk directly in his path. With hands on her hips, she scowled at him. “Josiah, how could you send that girl away? You know very well there is nowhere else.”

Josiah stood a bit straighter and defended himself. “Where would we put them? We’ve been turning folks away for days.”

“We can at least make them comfortable in the stable. That poor girl is at her wit’s end. Didn’t you see her lip quivering?”

The man stooped again in resignation as his wife pushed past him. He’d grown accustomed to her headstrong ways.

Rebecca opened the door and called to the couple. “We have room in the stable if you don’t mind boarding with the animals.”

Relief flooded their weary faces, and the young man quickly accepted.

Rebecca led them to a small shelter at the rear of the inn, part brick and part rock. “There, there, dear,” she said and patted the girl’s hand. “We’ll soon have you comfortable. I’ll bring blankets and a bucket of water for bathing. Just let me know if you need anything else.”

The girl gave her a tired smile. “We’re very grateful.”

“It’s no bother, dear. No bother.”

Rebecca scurried around gathering the promised items and sent Josiah to the stable with them. Then she returned to her supper preparations, adding enough for two more. The evening passed in a bustle of activity. At last, with her kitchen spotless and all guests settled for the night, she put her feet up before an open window, enjoying the balmy breeze. She sat there long into the darkness, listening to the city put itself to bed, and just as she prepared to do the same, a knock sounded at the door.

“Not again,” she said. She hated turning so many people away. But behind the door stood the young man from the stable, looking extremely uncomfortable.

“I’m sorry to bother you this late, ma’am, but I think my wife’s time has come, and I don’t know the first thing about birthing.”

Rebecca responded instantly. “Don’t you worry, dear. I’ve had six babies myself and presided at more births than I can remember. Go make the girl as comfortable as possible. I’ll set some water on to boil and be along directly. Josiah,” she called, waking her husband. “Fetch some clean linens. Go, go, go,” she said, shooing both men on their way.

The stable was warm and fragrant. The animals made low sounds, and Joseph paced anxiously wherever he found room. Rebecca stayed with the laboring girl, encouraging her and wiping her sweating brow. At last, far into the night, she gave birth to a baby boy.

Rebecca wrapped him in a warm cloth and cradled him in her arms. As she gazed at the tiny face, she felt a familiar fluttering in her chest. “Babies bring such joy,” she smiled as she laid the child in his mother’s arms. “He’s beautiful. What will you call him?”

“His name is Jesus,” said the man hovering at the girl’s side. Love and relief mingled on his weary face.

Rebecca did what she could for the mother, then, with a final, “Don’t hesitate to ask if you need anything else,” she slipped from the stable, leaving the new family alone. Exhausted, she crawled into bed beside the snoring Josiah.

Some time later, Rebecca awoke with a start. Loud shouting drifted in the open window from the street below. Looking outside, she saw a handful of men running up the road. They hurried from building to building, pounding on doors and shouting through windows.

“Josiah,” she whispered anxiously. No response. “Josiah!” She poked him hard.

“Wha…?” The man awoke with a start.

“Did they wake you up too?” she asked sweetly. Now she could hear angry curses being thrown down at the men from bedroom windows. “Go see what’s going on.”

Josiah muttered under his breath as he crawled from under the covers. Rebecca waited only a moment before grabbing a wrap and joining him outside the front door. By now, the men were close enough that she could see their ragged clothes.

“It’s just a bunch of drunks who wandered away from their herds,” Josiah said and went back inside. But Rebecca remained.

One of the shepherds rushed forward. “The angels came!” he blurted. “Thousands of them. They told us the Messiah has been born tonight here in Bethlehem. Do you know where we can find him?”

Rebecca’s heart did a tremendous back flip. Could it be? But the notion was ridiculous. She’d seen the baby with her own eyes. There was nothing special about him.

The shepherd grabbed her by both arms. “You know something! Please tell me. The angel said we would find him in a manger.”

Rebecca’s eyes grew round as the moon. “Th-there is a baby…” she stuttered.

The shepherd let out a whoop. “Over here, boys!” he yelled. Suddenly, Rebecca was surrounded by stinking, jostling shepherds, all babbling at once. “Where’s the baby?” “Have you seen him?” “Where can we find him?”

She motioned for silence. “There was a baby born in the stable out back. We didn’t have any rooms available, so we had to—” but nobody was listening. With shouts of joy, the shepherds ran to the stable, leaving her talking to herself.

“Now just a minute!” she admonished, rushing after them as fast as her bulk would allow. “They don’t need you lot disturbing them.”

She entered the stable prepared to do battle, but the scene stopped her short. The baby snuggled on his mother’s lap, waving a tiny fist in the air. Every last one of the men were bowed in reverent silence. The girl wore a tired smile, and her husband laid a protective hand on her shoulder. Someone murmured, “The Messiah.”

The word bounced off the rocky walls, and Rebecca’s mouth dropped open. She gaped at the young mother who nodded with shining eyes.

The Messiah–born in her barn! With tears in her eyes, Rebecca sank to the stable floor and joined the band of ragged, dirty men celebrating the arrival of the One promised so long ago. What an honor God had granted her. She had helped deliver the One born to deliver her!

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