Sometimes the scariest story is the one inside us, the lack of faith in humanity, and ultimately, God. When strain and stress put us in precarious places, our fears hold us there, threatening to drown the beautiful moment that was just there. We wonder how we will get off the jetway and ultimately, home.
My eyes searched for something I could use as a weapon. My heart hammered inside my chest. I was certain if someone looked, they would see it trying to punch its way out of my sternum to escape.
First, the Dallas flight was cancelled because of a storm. A collective groan rose from a large group of people who quickly shifted into line at the gate counter. People kept their restless eyes glued to the arrival and departure screens.
My flight had already been delayed three times.
I texted my husband, while sitting in one of the coveted chairs with a charging station attached. He reassured me I still had time to make the connecting flight into St. Louis—as long as my plane came soon.
Denver’s flight was cancelled.
My trust was leaking out like a sieve.
Another huge, collective groan.
My breathing approached a panicked staccato. It played out like an ominous prelude, warning of some tragic story that would later be scrolling across the local channels.
People pushed toward the line for Dallas. It was painful to watch. Grown adults barked cruelly at helpless customer service attendants, who were doing their best at diplomacy. Desperation was cumbersome, like the carry-on bags in people’s hands.
I was looking hard for grace—for them and for myself.
I had just wrapped up a magical weekend with a dear friend. We celebrated the beautiful wedding of old friends. We had drunk coffee on the charming porch of our rented shore house late into the morning and chatted with locals walking by. My friend and I had embraced goodbye 3 hours ago.
My flight home from Newark was scheduled to stop in St. Louis before taking me home to Kansas. While waiting in the airport, I had waited and smiled politely at the passersby as I imagined their stories and hopes while I listened to my favorite songs through my ear buds.
Now I was near panic because I wanted to be home.
My plane bound for St. Louis landed just as I noticed him. He was maybe 19 and tall, with a mess of sandy hair, wandering awkwardly, and standing too close to females. He stepped into their personal space and smiled eerily. He asked things making their faces scrunch in awkward discomfort.
I tried to focus on my texting: “Can’t wait to be home.” I turned my music back on but couldn’t find the right song to change the tempo of my fear. Where was his bag?
“Want some?” he asked me. He stood a foot away, holding a half-gone bottle of water in front of his crotch. I did my best to stare back in my most high-noon-gun-slinging-show-down glare as a definitive “NO” spilled venomously from my mouth.
I calmly looked back at my phone while inside I prayed he bought my attempt at toughness.
God protect me.
Then a confrontation began between the guy and a father who stood between him and his young daughter. The room instantly grew smaller. People pushed forward to see what was happening. Shoving. Threats, Three other men jumped in.
I felt no relief—only more fear. There were no more stories in the faces around me. My trust was leaking out like a sieve.
The music, along with the hope were gone.
God, I need You.
They finally allowed us to load the plane after arrests were made. My connecting flight was gone. I had been at the Newark airport over 6 hours.
When I arrived in St. Louis after midnight, I was actually looking forward to renting a car and driving the last 4 hours home.
I was done with people.
I rode the shuttle to the nearest car rental. Homestretch, I thought. I stopped at an outlet to plug in my phone, now dead. My husband would be worried.
As I approached the counter, I could hear a man retelling the story of what had happened in Newark. He was heading into Kansas City on business. I asked for a car. Any car would be great. Just one with wheels, please.
“All we have left is a Suburban and a 9 passenger van, starting at $250,” the agent said. I had almost forgotten: I was done with people.
I asked politely if he could help me ask another rental place if they had cars available. He pointed to the door and said the next place was about a mile down the road. I asked if he could call, and he told me to use my own phone.
Now it was 1 a.m. and the tears were hot and heavy.
I was stuck.
Really, God? Where are You? Where is Your grace?
The man who was waiting for his car next to me interjected “You’re going to Kansas City? Me too. We could totally ride together.”
Humph. Seriously, Dude? I don’t know you. I don’t trust you. How gullible do you think I am? “Oh. NO. But thank you,” I said.
Have your story flop open to the moment where GRACE busts in. Memorize that chapter and the others will make sense. –Bob Goff
His eyes were kind, and I felt hope. He gently slid his business card and driver’s license over to me on the counter.
“Honestly. I know this is crazy. But I can help,” he said. “Look me up. I am a good guy. And listen. I have a sister. If this happened to her, I would want someone to help.”
Twenty minutes later, we were on the road to Kansas City. I called my husband and asked him to pray. (I also sent pictures of the man’s ID and business card.)
As we drove, the man talked about his family and how he tries to listen to the still small voice when he can. “I try to DO the thing I am being nudged to. I don’t think grace is just a thing we get to feel. We are supposed to give it,” he said. “I heard you talk about prayer. What does that mean to you?”
What I would come to understand is that man was Jesus busting in.
I took a deep breath and started talking about Jesus and a great guy named Bob Goff who wrote a book called Love Does.
I got home sometime around 5 a.m. I shook the man’s hand and said, “Thank you for being the grace that led me home tonight.”
Faith Scott is a mother, wife, storyteller, and counselor in the Midwest. I love how she shares messages of hope with everyone around her and helps others feel brave. She’s passionate about telling beautiful stories and finding love in hard places.
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*Photo credit: dierrigi
**Photo credit: killbill83