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A woman caught in sin was brought into a public place today, not to be punished, but to be rescued.

Eyes cast down and shuffling, the young beauty was led to a seat by a senior friend.

“Is this spot okay, sweetie?”

Nods. Sniffles. Shifting.  Backward glances.

Hot drinks came, and treats were served.  By the time I learned the cause of the young woman’s discomfort, it was too late for me to leave the room.  A chair blocked my exit and my coffee cup was full.

She’d know.

I tried not to listen.  We all did, the other laptops and I, but we were soon captivated, not only by the words spoken, but the genuine love behind them.

“I don’t judge you,” the old woman began, her alto warming the drafty little room. “That’s not my job.”

No answer.

With empathy, she reached across the rickety table and offered a steady, weathered hand.

It was taken.

“Remember what we talked about last week in Sunday school?  What does the Bible call this?” she asked, fully expecting an answer.

It came.

“That’s right, honey.  Adultery.  It’s not dating.  It’s not romance.  It’s sin.”

Sniffles and deep breaths.  A feeble, half-hearted argument.

“I know your husband didn’t keep his promises, but you made a promise to God, honey.  You have to keep it.  As long as you are married, you have to keep it.”

I held my breath.  We all did.

“Has God ever let you down?”  In no rush, the old woman gave her friend time to think and shake her head no.  “That’s right.  He hasn’t.  He saved you by the blood of Jesus and gave you a brand new life.  He loves you more than you know, and He keeps on proving it, doesn’t He?  He’s been getting you through hard times and helping you raise your little boy, hasn’t he?”

Soft sobbing.

“This man you call your boyfriend, he doesn’t love you like that.  He doesn’t give.  He takes, just like the devil takes.  You’re worth so much more than all those gifts, honey, and if you aren’t careful, the devil’s gonna to steal everything you’ve worked so hard for.  Plus, you don’t want to be the other woman, do you?  You don’t want to hurt another lady who just wants to be loved as much as you do.”

Long seconds passed in silence.  No one sipped.  No one typed.  No one moved at all.

A barely audible whisper. “No.”

Antique windows rattled under the pressure of gusting winds, and a tear escaped down my cheek.

“That’s right, you don’t!” the old woman boomed, her smile forming a wreath of happy wrinkles.  She patted the table with both hands. “Now let’s practice that important word, shall we?”

Everyone exhaled.  Fingers began to type.  Coffee cups rattled and clinked.  Casual conversation resumed.

The two women role played for a while to prepare the younger for difficult conversations still to come, her no’s growing stronger by the second, and I struggled to sit still.  I ached to say “no” with her, to verbalize my support, to stand by her side when push came to shove, but I knew, deep down, He’d be there, the God who’d just used one beloved daughter to woo and win back another.

Eventually, the women left hand in hand, their carriage hopeful, determined.  Work forgotten, I replayed the scene in my mind.

Compassionate, the old woman had called sin by its name, but hadn’t labeled the sinner.  Cautious, she’d expressed disdain for sin’s effects without wounding the affected.  Wise, she’d exposed the Enemy and exalted the Father.  Humble, she’d spoken the simple truth in love, not adding to or sensationalizing it, not blaming and shaming, not lording her own righteousness over another or forcing a response, but giving the Holy Spirit time and space to work, which He did.

Amazing.  Perfect.  Rare.

Oh, what I’d give to go back and have some conversations over again!