Advent Stories, Part 2: Faith

Hello, friends!

My friend Rachel is hosting an Advent Season fiction writing challenge, and I thought it would be fun to take part. Each week, she’ll post a prompt, and I’ll write a short fiction piece related to the prompt. I hope you enjoy this little series, and I’m excited to see where the weekly prompts take me. Enjoy!

This week’s prompt: Faith.

The metal frame of the airport chair dug into the small of Jon’s back. They’d started as uncomfortable and had only worsened as each hour passed. Jon shifted yet again, hoping to find a comfortable position, but nothing seemed to work longer than a few seconds.

He looked at his watch, but less than ten minutes had passed since he’d last checked the readerboard. Red letters spread across the display like an open wound, notifying travelers of delays and cancellations. Sunlight streamed through the wall of windows, belying the fact that a major snowstorm was blanketing the Northwest and causing mass chaos at connecting airports.

Jon shifted again, crossing his long legs in front of him and resting his head against the back of the chair. He took a slow breath and let it out, closing his eyes against his reality. Hope was waiting for him at home, and he had no way to get to her.

His eyes flew back open at the sound of a large something— or someone— settling into the chair next to him. He glanced toward the annoyance— didn’t this man know that airport etiquette dictated he choose a spot with at least one seat of clearance? The man chomped noisily on a bag of airport potato chips. Jon sighed and changed his position again, trying to avoid the portion of the man’s coat that hung over the arm of the chair.

Startled, the man glanced his way. “Oh, hi, buddy. I thought you were sleeping. I didn’t wake you up, did I?”

Jon shook his head. “No, I wasn’t sleeping.”

The man elbowed Jon, a smile splitting his face. “These airport chairs are a beast, right? It’s like they design them to be uncomfortable.” The man peered at Jon more closely. “Hey, man, you ok?”

Jon grimaced. It must be written all over my face.

He shrugged. Not the type to tell a perfect stranger his life story, he wasn’t exactly sure what to say. Still, this man had cared enough to ask, and seemed genuinely interested. Jon felt a familiar tap on his heart. Okay, Lord. I’m listening. What do You want to show me?

“Not really. I was supposed to get home today, but—” he waved his hand back toward the readerboard.

“Right, right, the storm. Yeah, that’s wreaking havoc for me as well. I’m not worried, though. I’ll get there eventually.”

Jon nodded. He had the same faith in the airlines. They’d get him home— eventually. In the meantime, he was breaking a promise to Hope, something he tried never to do.
The large man reached out his hand. “I’m Michael, by the way.”

“Jon.” Michael’s grip was strong, but somehow gentle.

“You’re trying to get home? Someone waiting for you?” How on earth did Michael know?

“My wife, Hope. I promised I’d get home today, but it’s not looking like it’s going to work out.” Jon rubbed a hand over the back of his neck. “Sometimes I wish I could control the weather.”

“She wouldn’t put you in the doghouse over a storm you can’t control, would she?” Michael jostled Jon with his elbow again, and Jon managed a weak smile.

“No, it’s not that. Hope’s great, the absolute best part of my life. I just hate feeling like I’m letting her down.”

Michael nodded, understanding filling his eyes. “Just can’t wait to get back to see her? That’s special, a love like that. You been married long?”

“Coming up on twenty-one years.”

“Whoa, man, that’s great. And after all these years, all you can think about is getting back to her? She must be pretty special.”

“She is.” He smiled at a memory. “I fell in love with her twenty-two years ago tomorrow, when she fell off a ladder and I caught her. That’s why I wanted to get home today. We’ve always celebrated November 30th as an anniversary of sorts, and this is the first year in twenty-two years that I won’t be there.” Jon drummed his fingers against his forehead, tapping out his frustration. “I know I can’t control the weather, but I hate this feeling of being helpless. I promised her I’d be home, and I’m breaking that promise.” He ran both hands through his hair. “And my phone is dead, so I can’t even call her.”

“Man, that’s rough.” The two men sat in silence for a few moments before Michael spoke again. “I just had the craziest thought come to my head.”

Jon lifted his head and looked at his seat-mate. “What’s that?”

“Well, first, let me ask you. Are you a praying man?”

Jon nodded, slowly, unsure of where Michael was going with this. “I am. I’ve been a pastor for twenty years.”

“I knew it! I just had this feeling when I sat down next to you, man! Okay, so hear me out.” Michael’s enthusiasm was infectious, and Jon felt his heart began to shed some of its heaviness.

Michael went on. “Okay, so how I see it, we both have faith that the snow’s eventually going to stop, right? Eventually the airports will get us on flights and send us home. But, that’s like having faith that the sun is going to come up every morning, and go to bed at night. It’s faith like breathing. It’s ordinary. What if we had faith for something extraordinary?” He pronounced it extra-ordinary.

Jon’s heart rose in response to Michael’s words and he again felt the familiar tapping on his heart. “You mean, like faith to believe in a miracle?”

Michael couldn’t seem to stop nodding. “Exactly.” He gestured around to the waiting area full of people. “I mean, it might not take a miracle for the storm to stop, but to get all these flights and people sorted out? Let’s pray for a miracle that will get you home to Hope.”

Jon felt the tiny seed take root in his heart. This is what you wanted me to hear, Lord. Faith in the God of Miracles.

“Let’s pray.” Jon reached for Michael’s hands and together they bowed their heads.

To be continued…

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