Jim looked out, and there were his true followers: Pedro, Andrés, Jimbo, Johnny, Matt, and now Big Nose Kate. Jim thanked God for a pretty good start and realized he needed to nurture this group a bit more. It wasn’t going to be easy to follow him because they would meet resistance, so they needed a special word from God. Jim called the five up to sit in a circle around him, and he offered a word of prayer and then some silent prayer before chatting about the task at hand.
“Life is tough,” Jim said, “and we have to go out there and get right in the middle of it all.”
“So we ain’t gonna be a bunch of priests?” asked Big Nose Kate with a confused look.
“Think about it, Kate,” responded Jim. “People would have to call you Father.”
Everyone laughed, and Pedro said “I’m sure glad you have a sense of humor, Jim. It’s what keeps me goin.’”
Jim agreed, then got back to business. “Ya need to be like the dust of the earth.”
“I don’t get it,” replied Johnny while scratching his head.
“It’s easier to understand when yer down in the desert in Phoenix,” offered Jim. “The dust there settles into the ground and nurtures everything around it. That, my friends, is yer job.”
“Yah,” said Jimbo, “but sometimes dust storms blow in and make a mess of things.”
“You bet,” agreed Jim, “and that’s my point. Dust can be good or harmful, so yer job is to get involved with the bad dust while remembering yer the good dust.”
They needed to think about that one for a while, so Jim suggested they take a short break for some meditation.
It was late afternoon, and fortunately the seven of them had been invited to supper by a church member. Jim didn’t know it at the time, but this simple act became the basis of one of his defining ideas: “Have faith, and God will provide.” They arrived at the home and were greeted by the gracious host. After enjoying their fill of Indian Slapjacks and fresh sowbelly, they were good to go for some more teaching from Jim.
They settled into the front room, enjoying the fragrance of cooked bacon wafting in. This time he decided to start with some scripture. The pastor let him keep the Bible he’d given him, so Jim turned to Isaiah 42:6 and read “I am the LORD, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations.”
“They a whole bunch of sermons in that one,” exclaimed Jimbo.
“Yer right,” said Jim, “so let’s take it a bit at a time. Let’s think of ourselves as called by God. When things get tough, and they will, always remember that the good and righteous God is the one who has called us.”
“Kinda sends a chill up my back,” said Matt as he lifted his shoulders and shrugged off a shiver. “I never felt good about running a house of prostitution, but I feel great about bein’ called by God to do good things. But I’m confused. Yer the one who called me, not God.”
“Good point,” said Jim. “It has to do with the way God’s Word works in our lives. It shore was talkin’ ‘bout God in the time of Isaiah the prophet, but the Bible keeps speaking new to us each day. Today God is calling y’all through me, so it’s true that I called ya and it’s true that God called ya.”
Everyone slapped Matt on the back for a great point, and Kate said “Just look around. If we ain’t a bunch of misfits, I don’t know who is. So if God can work with us, I guess God could do just about anything.”
“That’s right,” said Pedro. “Bringing together Mexicans, Americans, men, women, and an owner of a house of prostitution ain’t no easy thing.” He then looked at Kate and asked, “What did you do for a livin’?”
Kate was quite comfortable letting them know that Jim was already a great influence in her life. “I used to be a prostitute, and I dated Doc Holliday.”
“That was you?” asked Matt, with a look of shock on his face.
“Yes, sir!” said Kate. “We headed for Tombstone to get in on the big silver strike there, but I had anger and drinkin’ problems. Earlier this year Doc threw me out, so I left Tombstone for good and stayed at a boarding house I opened in Globe last year. I loved the mountains here in Prescott, so I left Globe recently and arrived a few days ago. It was just in time to hear about Jim’s way of helpin’ people. I was hooked, but in a good way. Then I heard him this afternoon and just knew I needed to be a follower.”
“Welcome to the group,” Jim offered with an air of genuineness. “Now let me see. Where was I? O yah, the scripture verse says that God will keep us.”
“Great,” said Johnny. “Cause I ain’t got no idea how we can foller ya when we’ve left our jobs. Jimbo and I left the family farm outside Phoenix and we’re worried sick about what will happen to it.”
“Same here,” echoed Andrés. “Pedro and I are scared we’ll lose our farm.”
“Speak for yerself, Andrés,” countered Pedro. “I believe in jefe, so I choose to trust him.”
“No, no, no,” explained Jim. “What we all have to do is trust in God.”
Praise for The Forming of the Diamond
“You are sure to enjoy this retelling of the Gospel Story, set in the Old West with cowboys and Russians playing the parts of Galileans and Romans, accompanied by marshals standing in for the Pharisees. The same message of truth, love, trust, and forgiveness comes through, as the struggle for survival and the interactions between the characters are reminiscent of life and conflicts in the First Century.”
—D. James Benton, author of 55 titles on Amazon.
“Keith H. Adkins takes us into the captivating setting of the Old West to tell us the story of Jesus. He flawlessly weaves together his knowledge of the Gospel and his appreciation for our nation’s history. Through convincing encounters, we experience the teachings of Jesus in inventive ways—some quite entertaining. True to Scripture, enticing to the imagination, and contemporary in its message, you will find Adkins’ account mesmerizing and memorable.”
—Rev. William Schwein, retired pastor of the Indiana Conference of the United Methodist Church.
About the Author
Keith H. Adkins was born in Columbus, Indiana and is a retired United Methodist pastor, having served the Indiana Conference for 37 years from 1982-2019. His first three books comprised an in-depth Bible Study trilogy. His next six books dealt with ministry, spirituality, and pilgrimages. He then started a trilogy of Christian fiction, which will be completed in the fall of 2023. His latest is The Secret of the Diamond: A Lenten Devotional.