Over the years, I’ve been a frequent flyer, logging as many as 60,000 air miles in 12 months. One way I pass the time is thinking about “why” people are traveling. I try to figure out their unique story; what they are thinking about and why they are on the road. Thinking about those individual stories led me to wonder how those people would react if faced with a common problem.
The basis of the short story, Decisions on a Small Plane, was a Jet Blue flight in 2005 where the passengers on board were able to watch news reports about the trouble their own plane was having and how they were going to have to make an emergency landing. Over the years, I’ve heard people question how God can let bad things happen to good people—especially while “bad” people seem to succeed. I never had a good answer for that question myself and considering the number of people I’ve heard ask the question, it seems like a common one. The horrible attacks of 9/11 are a perfect example of the problem. How many people died that day because of hate, but who had personally never done anything wrong? They didn’t deserve to die. I’m sure many of those same people, when they realized they were doomed, spent their last few moments on earth praying. But they died anyway.
That is where Decisions on a Small Plane came from. It started out as a writing experiment to bring together disparate characters with no connection and throw them together in a small space. Along the way, it became about something much bigger. It became a story about faith.
Generally, my stories are about adventures—both big and small. In many ways, Decisions on a Small Plane is an adventure for me. It feels like I’m going out on a limb, talking about my own thoughts and my own faith. This story became personal as I thought through the answers to my own questions about “why God lets bad things happen to good people.” I learned a few things in the writing.
I’m not an expert on any of this and don’t pretend to be. I talked about this story with the pastor of my church and asked him to review it (twice) before we even thought about putting this story out there. I hope anyone who reads Decisions on a Small Plane will allow it to spark questions in their own mind and that they will ask someone who can help them understand. That was my purpose in writing this story the way I did. I hope it starts conversations and helps people talk. If it does that, it has served its purpose. And that will be fine with me.
Please feel free to share the story with anyone you think might be interested in reading it. If you want to use the story at your own church or in your own group, you are welcome to do that. Just let me know where and what you’re going to do with it and please don’t change it. Other than that, it is free and available for anyone to read and share.
You can find the link at the bottom of the Emmanuel Baptist Church website or in the church blog. Just click on the Decisions on a Small Plane link.