Missing in Action

Just Jon didn’t come to church.

When S.M. and I went out for lunch after church, I saw him sitting near the corner at a booth. He looked up as we entered the cafe. He cupped the mug of something in his hands and quickly looked away. Before he looked away, he appeared embarrassed, then defiant.

“Don’t go over there.” S.M. said as a waitress showed us to a table on the opposite side of the restaurant.

I told S.M. about the scene outside of the church. He thought Just Jon’s behavior was inappropriate for the location. S.M. can be protective of me. This is not a bad thing, but it can make evangelism difficult. I felt the nudge again, like God whispering, Go over there. Talk to him.

S.M. ordered a coffee, and said, “Don’t even think about it.”

“Ice tea with lemon,” I said to the waitress. When the waitress walked away, I looked at S.M. and smiled.

“No.” S.M. said. “Don’t.”

I smiled again.

“You are really embarrassing to be with.” S.M. mumbled.

I stood and leaned over to kiss him. “Thank you.”

As I walked between the tables, narrowly avoiding a waiter with a too full tray of food, Just Jon looked up at me. For a moment, he wore a worried expression. The worry became eclipsed suddenly by that defiant look.

“Hi Jon.” I sat down across from him. “I wanted to tell you, I’m sorry.”

Just Jon looked startled. Still, he said nothing.

“I shouldn’t have waited, but your tone and your words worried me. Are you alright?”

“Jon is okay.” Jon using a third person reference for himself sounded odd.

“You didn’t sound okay.”

“How is this any of your business?” Hostility surfaced in those dark eyes.

“It’s not. But I feel sort of involved now that I overheard what I overheard. When I didn’t see you in church, I wanted to tell you that you shouldn’t be embarrassed.”

Footsteps approached. I looked up and saw S.M. standing over the table. He held two menus.

“I thought I’d join you.” S.M. signaled me to scoot over.

I slid over the booth seat near the wall as S.M. sat down.  Just Jon gave a deep sigh.

“I came here to be alone.” Just Jon said.

“And I came here to eat.” S.M. said. He looked over at me. “Apparently, my wife likes to talk. So I figured we could talk together.”

I knew his tone. Resignation.

Just Jon shoved his mug away from him and said, “I guess I’ll just go then.”

“So were you abused?” I sensed his panic to flee.

Just Jon slid out of the booth. “Why do you care? I left my family. All of them.”

“Even good family members?” I stopped my tongue from mentioning his son or ex-girlfriend. Maybe I wasn’t supposed to know that much information?

His shoulders fell away. He looked defeated and guilty. “I don’t know who I can trust. Look, I know you mean well, and I’m sorry I cussed. I lost my temper.” Just Jon slid out of his seat and nearly bumped into the waitress. He mumbled an apology to her and went to the cash register to pay for his coffee.

S.M. and I ordered our food and my husband sat where Just Jon sat with a look of strange satisfaction.

“What?” I griped.

“Your nose is going to get cut off if you keep sticking it in people’s faces.” S.M. grinned after he said this.

He was trying to lighten the mood. I could forgive him for his bluntness. “Whatever. But I’m right. Maybe he’ll come to church next week or even to Men’s Bible Study Wednesday?”

S.M. smiled at me. “I love you. You are annoying, but I love you.”


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