Today I'd like to tell you a story about a chap called Gerry Ponson.
Gerry was one of those guys who burned the candle at both ends. And if you asked him what he believed in, he'd say Wine, Women and Song. His sister once tried to talk to him abut God but he'd have none of it. He kicked her out of the house, called her a fruitcake.
Gerry wasn't all bad. He had a good heart. For instance, he had this old friend, Mac, whom he'd take duck hunting every year. He'd pick up Mac and his black lab Booga, about five in the morning, and they'd shove off from New Orleans in a small boat, heading to a favorite spot across the Bay.
But the last time they did that, it was almost the end of them. They got a mile off shore and were hit with a sudden, freak storm - a Nor'wester. The waves came up and started tossing their little boat like a toy.
In minutes the boat flipped, then sank in about eight feet of water.
By standing on the sunken boat, and holding onto a pole he jammed into the mud, Gerry could just keep his head above water.
Mac was not in very good health, so Gerry had to keep propping him up. "Hold on Mac," he kept shouting, trying to encourage the older man, while trying to figure out what they were going to do.
Booga the dog was swimming in circles. When he got tired, Gerry would hold him by the collar for a few minutes.
Then, finally, he said, "Mac... I can save you, but I can't save your dog."
So he shouted, "Git, Booga, Git." The dog swam away, but Gerry knew there was no way he'd make it back to shore.
There they were. It wasn't even sunrise yet and there was a heavy mist; he couldn't leave Mac behind and swim for shore - it was too far - and the likelihood of a boat coming along was slim to none.
"I'm cold, Gerry. I can't hold on," moaned Mac.
"Yes, you can," said Gerry, not at all convinced.
Gerry realised the options were bad. Real bad. Their only hope was for a boat to come down that channel - see two people out in the mist where two people are not supposed to be - and rescue them. That was a tall order and he sure wasn't a believer in miracles.
He thought about his sister and that day he called her a fruitcake. Then he looked at Mac, who was getting weaker and weaker. If they didn't get help, they were going to die for sure.
So, out of utter desperation Gerry looked up and screamed: "If you're there God... PLEASE...PLEASE GIVE ME A SECOND CHANCE."
"I'm tired, Gerry."
"Hold on, Mac."
Then, as if his eyes were deceiving him, he saw something in the mist! It looked like a cross! But it wasn't. It was the mast of a big boat!
He took his shirt off, stuck it on the pole, and waved it around, hoping and hoping that someone would see them.
The next thing he knew a man was swimming toward them... then dragging Mac back to the boat. Gerry swam alongside, amazed; he couldn't believe they were being rescued!
Then, he had the biggest surprise of his life. He saw the name on the boat. It was... SECOND CHANCE!
That day, Mac and Gerry both got a second chance. And so did Booga. When they got to shore, he was there to greet them, wagging his tail as if to say Hey, where you guys been?
It turned out that Gerry Ponson's worst day of his life was also his best day. That was the day he learned to believe in someone up there bigger than himself, the Maker of all miracles.
Ever since Gerry cried out for a second chance and a boat by that name showed up, he's been telling others his incredible story as a street preacher in New Orleans.
-Squire Rushnell, The Homecoming Magazine
Isn't that such an awesome story!