The great silver bird lifted up from the hot tarmac in a picture perfect take off. Joel loved everything about his first flight, except one: the reason. His friend was at death’s door and calling for him. Her family provided for his plane fare and expenses. He couldn’t refuse.
Joel’s parents and sister were killed in a terrorist driven train explosion. Two years later the tour bus he owned and operated was ravaged by the unmitigated hate of another senseless bomb attack in his beloved Israel. Thirty-two passengers died. The one who survived had returned to the hotel to retrieve her camera.
When he awoke in the hospital with his eyes bandaged, Mrs. Esther Jones was sitting by his bedside. He reminded her of her grandson back home. In retrospect, he wondered if he would have made it without her daily encouragement and tender ministering. She never wavered in the face of his stubborn refusal to hear anything about a man whose life and times were so familiar to him but whose deity he denied.
As the huge jet leveled off Joel reached for his small tape player and earphones. He had promised Esther he would not miss a day of Scripture. It was the only way to get her off his back about the Messiah.
At first he had only listened to the strong, convincing voice read Genesis through Revelation because it meant the world to his loving friend. After hearing the whole Bible once, he realized he was doing it for himself.
“I have the same tape series.”
Joel turned toward the sweet sound of a female. She was sitting in the aisle seat; he was by the window. The middle was blessedly empty.
“Oh, hello,” Joel chuckled, “I didn’t realize there was anyone there. I am blind.”
“Yes, I can see you are. I used to be blind too.”
Joel turned more sharply in the direction of the kind speaker and lovely fragrance.
“Is that so?”
On impulse he extended his right hand in introduction. She grasped it firmly; a surprising contrast to her soft demeanor.
“My name is Rebeccah. I’ve been on a year long mission but I live in a small town in a southern state in America.”
He couldn’t help grinning at the lilt in her charming accent. He hoped she would keep talking all night. She did.
Joel could almost feel the light shining from the sweet smelling girl sitting so near. She seemed wrapped securely in the very faith Esther had tried to share with him. He asked questions. She gently answered, and then he felt her soft hand touch his arm.
“Joel, none of us has the assurance of one more breath. Wouldn’t you like to accept Jesus as your Messiah, your Savior who paid the price for your sins and has gone to prepare a place for your eternal home?”
When he nodded assent, all remaining doubt fell away and his tears spoke volumes to her. As he was leaning forward, elbows resting on knees, she took the little bottle of distilled water she carried and carefully poured its contents over his head and on to the jacket she had spread over his feet.
“Joel Meltzar, I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.”
Rebeccah waited with her head bowed while Joel cried out in thanks to the Lord.
“Toda, Y’Shua! Toda. Toda.”
She was so blessed by the radiant smile on his handsome face she decided to teach him the words to Amazing Grace. Their seats in the back afforded enough privacy for precious fellowship and hushed conversation.
The two followers of Christ quietly sang, “…how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.”
During their long interval of prayer together, they had been unaware of the disturbance on board; the presence of evil intention; the escalating terror of activity. In the twinkling of an eye its goals were accomplished…just as they harmonized, “I once was blind, but now I see.”
The first thing Joel saw when he opened his eyes was a young and beautifully healthy Esther Jones - arms open wide with joy. Rebeccah was there, and most of the passengers from the last tour he led.
He turned around to a sight that sent him reeling to the ground on his face in awe and worship.
The kind voice of his Master and Savior spoke softly, but with deepest love and forgiveness.
“Welcome home, my son.”
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