I started a farm publishing company in Louisville, Kentucky, but from its shoestring beginning, it always needed more money. Hot Line, Inc. purchased the company in 1981. My wife, our two children, and I moved to Fort Dodge, Iowa, in the spring of 1982, purchasing a brick home on Sixth Avenue North. There I managed the new Farm Blue Division for Hot Line.
After a year with Hot Line, I left and started a new publication, still chasing my dreams of being wealthy, as in stinking rich. But it all came crashing down in 1985 because I needed thousands of dollars to start a new publishing company and bail my family out of debt. Our financial resources were maxed out. My inner reservoir was empty and I was finished.
Our only untouched asset was a $125,000 life insurance policy on me. The solution seemed obvious: suicide.
Suicide posed no moral obstacles for me because I was an agnostic. No God equaled zero problems with eternal judgment after carrying out a final business decision. My plan was to enjoy the family for the weekend and commit suicide on the following Monday.
May 20, 1985, arrived with me figuring this was the end of the line. I was not jittery about the decision, but instead I finished up a few loose ends in the morning. I ate leftovers for lunch along with drinking cups of coffee. Later that afternoon, I drove downtown to visit an insurance agent.
Bill Sheridan and I knew each other, but we were not intimate friends. His son played on a youth baseball team, which I had coached the year before. Our relationship was built on after-game conversations, standing in parking lots next to baseball diamonds. He was not even my life insurance agent.
Why did I stop to see him that day? I do not really know for sure, but I think a business partner of mine, suggested I should see him for some reason.
Bill invited me into his office. He sat in a chair behind his desk while I sat in a chair opposite him. We discussed sports and the prospects for our son’s upcoming baseball seasons. In the middle of our conversation, he stared at me.
“You’re thinking about committing suicide, aren’t you?” he said, his eyes zeroing in on mine.
His words hit like a sledgehammer. How did he know? I told no one. It was my secret $125,000 payday for my family. Words fluttered around my brain, but failed to connect with my tongue. As I sat there, a vision played across my mind showing my old Chevy Vega ramming into a viaduct and killing me. I wept, and although attempting to regain composure, I could not.
“How did you know?” I asked through sobs.
“Oh, the Lord told me while we were talking to each other.”
His words shattered my unbelief because I realized that God was alive and cared about me. We continued talking and he gave me a book: Power in Praise by Merlin Carothers. Bill eventually shook my hand and said one more explosive comment before I left.
“I speak in tongues,” he said.
Walking to my car, I thought, this God-stuff is real. It’s not hocus-pocus tomfoolery after all. I wept all the way home.
I walked into our empty house and sat down on the loveseat in the living room, facing the fireplace. I began reading Power in Praise. Each page seemed to have been written with me in mind. After twenty-five pages, I put the book down on the coffee table and walked into the downstairs bathroom. I locked the door behind me. There I knelt on the floor in front of the bathroom sink, using it as an altar for my hands. My reflection in the mirror revealed a desperate man.
“Jesus, I’ve tried everything else and nothing has worked. I guess I’ll give You a try.”
Instantly, I knew Jesus was alive and now lived inside of me. I wept for joy, knowing He loved me. I worshipped Him and prayed verbatim Footprints in the Sand as a personal prayer, but I added a new twist for its ending.
“Lord, I’m never climbing out of Your arms because You’re always going to have to carry me. I’m too weak.”
(The above excerpt is from my memoir, The Hunt for Larry Who, Amazon eBook, © 2014 by Larry Nevenhoven)