Amazing Grace

Chapter One

Owen Bryant looked ahead as he sat at the front of a small boat traveling effortlessly with the current downriver. He didn't bother looking back at the two others in the boat as he spoke now. "The village is only a few more miles down."

Craig and Julia Matheson both nodded, although Owen obviously didn't see them. Julia's green eyes were wide and troubled. Craig reached across the narrow boat and took his new wife's hand in his own. "Jules? You okay?"

Julia tightly grasped the hand that held hers. "Y--yeah. I'm… I'm fine."

Craig lifted an eyebrow at the unconvincing attempt at bravery. He leaned forward, his face mere inches from Julia's. "Jules," he said again, more quietly this time. "What's wrong?"

Julia sighed. "I guess I'm just scared," she said after a moment.

"Scared of what?" Craig asked.

Julia shrugged. "I don't know…. What if I don't know how to help someone? What if I say or do the wrong thing? You know, I don't know their culture and traditions all that well. And I know there will be a lot of sick people, living in conditions that I can't imagine. What if I can't handle it?" She sighed again and leaned forward, resting her forehead against her husband's.

Craig was quiet for a minute. Finally, he spoke. "Julia, do you believe that God called you to come on this mission trip?"

"Yes, of course," Julia replied.

"Are you sure?"

"Yes." She raised her head so that she could look at Craig. "I know He has called me to be here. I've already told you that, before we even started making plans to come."

"Then why are you worrying?" Craig asked her. "Do you not think that God will take care of you?"

"I don't think He won't take care of me," Julia said, sounding offended that he would ask such a thing.

"So, do you think that God would call you to do something that you couldn't handle?" He didn't wait for her to answer. "Sweetheart, God's got your back. You know that. You're not here as just yourself, but as a representative of Christ to these people. You don't have to say or do anything. Just let God speak and work through you."

A small smile appeared on Julia's face, enhancing her already lovely features. "Not I, but Christ."

Craig smiled, too. "Exactly." He kissed her. "You okay now?"

Julia nodded. "Yeah," she said. "Thanks."

Owen glanced back just in time to see Craig kissing Julia. Again. He turned to face forward once more, suppressing an exasperated sigh, trying not to be irritated--trying, but not succeeding. He was happy for Craig, really. It was nice to see his best friend so happy with someone, and Owen could not doubt that Craig and Julia were created for one another. But the two had been married for only a month, and they acted very much like newlyweds. Owen was not looking forward to witnessing all of the little kisses and touches and the mushy looks they would exchange. Yeah, that's going to get annoying real fast.

He was trying not to be immature about the fact that Craig brought a girl along. After all, the girl was Craig's wife. He really couldn't be expected to leave her behind while they went off on their yearly mission trip to South America—especially not so soon after they had been wed, and definitely not after Julia had expressed so great an interest in doing mission work. But we've been doing these trips for five years—it's always been our thing. Who's thing? Craig's train of thought stopped short as he glanced heavenward. Sorry, Lord. It's not about me. It's all about You. This trip is Your thing, not ours. Help me to not be a jerk about this, please.