It was a cool, spring day, and “Preacher Bob”— as was he was affably known — was strolling down Main Street.
Indeed, Robert Stillwater was the pastor of the local Baptist church in this small southern town and was considered a pillar in the community. Though in his mid-60s, Preacher Bob was walking at healthy gait, one that would make most men 20 years his junior envious.
From a side alley adjacent to Main Streets taggered out this zombie-looking man, a soiled suit hanging on his emaciated frame, no socks nor shirt, a week’s growth of beard, long, unkempt hair plastered to his forehead, a bottle of Mogen David 20/20 wine in his hand.
Catching the man before he collapsed to the pavement, Preacher Bob immediately recognized this wretched piece of humanity: It was Jasper Willcott, early 40s, who not only once had been a member of Preacher Bob’s church, but also had been a multi-millionaire, a real “shaker-and-mover” around town.
However, it had been about a year since Preacher Bob had seen Jasper, and, also, the good reverend was aware of Jasper’s recent financial and marital woes.
Holding Jasper up by the elbow, Preacher Bob, with concern, inquired, “Jasper, how are things with you these days?”
“Ah-ah . . . you-you . . . you know the deal, Preacher Bob,” Jasper slurred, a rancid cocktail of Mag Dog 20/20 and not having had a bath in days permeating the air. “I had it all at one time! But my wife, Carmen, left me for another woman, and I’ve gone from living in a 20-room mansion to a single-room apartment, furnished with only a table. … Hell, I’m sleeping on the floor! If that’s not enough, she and the other woman are living in the mansion, and they’re spending my millions, leaving me in financial ruins.”
Jasper continued: “In fact, I’m on my way to my apartment right now, and I’m gonna take my pearl-handle Colt Python .357 — ***** didn’t get that — and blow my brains out. I don’t have the desire to live anymore!”
Preacher Bob put his other hand on Jasper’s other elbow, tightened his grip, and pulled Jasper closer.
“Jasper, this is exactly what Satan wants, and you must seek a Higher Power in order to emerge from the darkness. Let me ask, do you still have that King James Bible I gave you as a gift when I married you and Carmen?”
“Yeah, in fact, I do,” Jasper replied.
“OK, here’s what I want you to do. When you get to your apartment — before doing anything drastic — say a little prayer and ask the Lord to show you the way. Then, get your Bible, close your eyes, open the Bible, then open your eyes and start reading the first thing you see. Promise me you will do this,” Preacher Bob prodded with a stern tone.
Looking at the ground, Jasper meekly mumbled, “I promise,” then proceeded to stagger down Main Street. Preacher Bob shook his head, and his eyes welled up with tears.
Six months later
It was mid fall, and Preacher Bob, again, was walking down Main Street. Into a parking slot pulled a 2014 Maserati GranTurismo convertible, a $130,000 ride.
From the Maserati stepped out an immaculately-groomed, handsome man, dressed in an Armani suit, sporting a Rolex watch, an air of complete confidence about him.
Preacher Bob gasped; it was Jasper! Preacher Bob ran up to Jasper, and stammered, “Ja-Ja-Ja-Jasper, it’s so good to see you. You’ve made a complete turn around with your life!”
“Yes, Preacher Bob, and I owe it all to you.”
“Remember back when I was gonna blow out my brains, and you told me to ask the Lord to show the way, then close my eyes, open the Bible, open my eyes and read?”
“Yes, I do,” Preacher Bob answered.
“Well, I did just that, and, indeed, the Lord showed me the way!”
“What did you see in the Bible that saved you from suicide?” Preacher Bob asked, somewhat puzzled.
“Chapter 11,” Jasper smugly answered.