Dear Reading Friends, if you were faithful to God first and foremost, would your friends understand? Here’s a Christian short story for the romantic adventurers out there who love a little spontaneity.—David Telbat
Because You Were Faithful
by D.I. Telbat
Jonas Manchester returned to Arvada, Colorado, after living in the Alaskan bush for ten years. His homecoming was bittersweet since he’d returned to bury his father, but he was pleased to see many of the church members in person. Dozens of them had been supporting him while he’d been serving God in the north.
The funeral was a mixture of rejoicing and weeping, since Mr. Manchester had been a devoted and loved leader for the Lord in the community. Jonas felt awkward in the crowd of funeral attendees, all who wore their Sunday best, when he was used to wearing thermals and caribou skins to ward off the cold. That day, he wore his only pair of slacks and a collared shirt, both which smelled like old socks. And for footwear, he wore hiking boots. Hardly funeral attire, but no one seemed to care. They were just glad he was home.
At the outdoor potluck after the funeral, everyone had a story to share about his father, and Jonas didn’t mind telling anyone who asked about his work with the Yupik people along the Yukon River. These were his friends who’d helped raise him as a child after his mother had died, and they’d supported him for years while he’d been in Alaska, serving Jesus Christ. But as much as they meant to him, his calling was elsewhere, and he couldn’t wait to return to the river where church planting and discipleship work was still his passion.
During a lull in the socializing, Jonas made a break for the table of food and suddenly found himself standing in front of Stacy Prichard.
“Hi, Jonas.” She blushed in the summer sun, her blond hair blowing in the breeze. “I missed the funeral, but I didn’t want to miss seeing you before you went back to Alaska.”
“You look good, Stace.” He swallowed with difficulty, finding his old girlfriend from high school even more beautiful than he remembered. “I didn’t know you were still in town. Or, did you go to college, or . . . ?”
“College. But I’m back now.” She smiled. “I mean, it’s been ten years, right? A lot has happened.”
“Yeah.” Jonas flinched at the last memory of them together. “I’ve thought a lot about that last day.”
“Don’t apologize, Jonas.”
“Oh, I need to. Not for what I needed to do, but for how I told you. I mean, proposing to you like that, and asking you to leave with me without a heads-up—it was an unreasonable ultimatum. I wasn’t thinking. And I was insensitive.”
“That’s what I wanted to talk to you about.” She frowned and looked away.
Jonas took a deep breath, hoping she wasn’t about to make a scene. They’d been sweethearts for years, going to youth group activities together as well as the prom. Marriage had seemed the natural next step. But she’d been drawn to the world, and Jonas had turned to what he knew God was calling him to do.
“It was a long time ago, Stace.” He shook his head. “But, I am sorry.”
“No, I don’t want you to be sorry. Listen.” She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “I would’ve pulled you away, if I hadn’t rejected your offer. I wasn’t in a good place. You were right to leave me behind.”
“What? I don’t understand. You’re . . . okay?”
“Yeah.” She laughed lightly. “I’m okay. You did what was right. I was hurt at first, but after some time, I realized why you did what you did. You answered your calling. Because you were faithful, Jonas, I figured out who I needed to be. For God and for myself.”
“Well, praise the Lord!” Jonas threw his hands up. “It’s not what I expected, but I’m really glad it worked out.”
“More than that, I think.” Her face became serious. “That last day, you asked if I would marry you, then go with you. But I didn’t want that life, so I turned you down. I turned down marriage and ministry and Alaska. I turned you down, because I didn’t love God like you did.”
“That’s a lot to realize.” Jonas folded his hands. “So, what did you end up doing?”
“Well, I started with Bible college. Then nursing school. Then I went to South America for a while—Argentina. I wanted some experience away from what was comfortable, you know?”
“Really?” Jonas wasn’t sure of what to say for a moment. “This isn’t quite what I thought you’d find for yourself.”
“Me, neither, I assure you. I would’ve never realized it, like I said, if you hadn’t shown me how important God was to you. I wanted you to want me as much as I wanted you, but we wouldn’t have lasted. Not like that. I’m sorry you have to find out this way, coming back here for your father.”
“If Dad were here, he’d just say that there are no accidents with God, even where tragedy is concerned. I’m glad God has brought you to a good place in His will. I’m really glad, Stace.”
“Are you glad enough for me that you’ll talk about things in a serious way?”
“Um . . .” Jonas’ mouth felt dry. “A serious way?”
“Well, I know you’re still single, and so am I.” She smiled. “God hasn’t been training me the last ten years to hang around here. I’m ready to answer my calling now, too.”
“Oh? Oh!” Jonas glanced back at the crowd nearby. He hoped no one was listening to him awkwardly catching up with his old girlfriend. “You mean like Jonas-Stacy, Version 2.0?”
“I was thinking more like Jonas-Stacy, Team God. The way I see it, we’ve only been on a ten-year training program, Jonas, getting ready for what’s next. I won’t ask if you still have that ring hanging around.”
“The ring? You mean—?” Jonas chuckled. “I’m going back to Alaska, Stacy.”
“I’m not asking you to stay.” She bit her lip, and quietly added, “I’m only waiting for you to ask me again if I’ll go with you.”
Jonas thrust his hands deep into his pockets and tried not to grin like a schoolboy.
“I guess we do have some pretty serious things to talk about. You want to stick around and help me clean up?”
“Sure, if you promise to tell me all about Alaska,” she said with a smile.
He smiled back, not knowing what to say, and his thoughts returned to the words Stacy had spoken moments before: “because you were faithful . . .” “Thank You, Lord,” he prayed in his heart. “Thank You.”