Rescued: A Prodigal's Journey Home (Hardcover)
"This is a book you will read once—all at once—in one sitting."
—James L. Ferrell, author of The Peacegiver
From beloved Deseret News columnist Jerry Johnston comes this intimate and inspirational true narrative of adversity and redemption. Allowing readers to glimpse behind the curtain of his private life, Jerry recounts a time of deep personal challenge when his heart hardened and his thoughts darkened—a time when, losing all bearings, he turned from his faith. Although he is a man of achievement, his story is rather a story of God’s achievement—how the Lord healed one man’s broken heart and restored it to hope, and how He will do the same for each of us. Jerry’s tender confession of his human struggles points us to Christ and creates a poignant tale of the only kind of success that really matters. Difficult to put down and impossible to forget, Rescued will inspire you to live better—more honestly, more joyfully, more contentedly—and to trust in the never-failing arm of the One who never gives up.
- Pages: 116
- Size: 6 x 9
- Released: 01/2012
- Book on CD: Unabridged
About the Author
Jerry Earl Johnston won a writing competition in first grade and has never kicked the habit. He has been with the Deseret News for more than thirty years and currently writes a weekly column. He has won awards from The Reader’s Digest and the Society of Professional Journalists and is a two-time winner of the national Wilbur Award for religious columns. The Deseret News has honored him twice with the Mark E. Petersen Excellence in Writing Award.
He and his wife, Carol, have a blended family of five children and fifteen grandchildren. They live in Brigham City, where Jerry serves in the bishopric of the Brigham City Fifth Ward.
A Wedding Cake in the Rain
While I write this, I keep looking out the window where the
late evening clouds are as hard and gray as Grandma’s old pewter
dishes. Rain has speckled the window, and an evergreen the size of
the National Christmas Tree blocks my view of the world.
And yet, I can still see the Polar Star.
That’s because, tonight, the Polar Star is down inside of me.
Such isn’t always the case. And for many years in my life, it was
never the case.
But now, when I need a guiding light, I can often find it within.
That’s just one of the blessings that comes with returning to a
life of faith.
I’m a classic prodigal son. And being a prodigal son puts me in
league with a rather ragtag group of folks. There’s that fellow in the
parable who buries his talent in the ground instead of putting it to
good use, not to mention any nitwit dim enough to light a candle
and cover it with a bushel basket.
But the sin for all three of us is the same. Prodigals, talent
hoarders, and light hiders are given the most joyous gifts God has
to offer, but we make bad use of them.
Some bury those gifts and hide them, others shield them from
those in need. But prodigals are the most devious of the three. We
take God’s wonderful spiritual riches and spend them on ourselves.
Contrary to popular belief, prodigal doesn’t mean “wayward.” It
means “extravagant,” as in “careless and wasteful with the precious
things of the kingdom.”
The nice thing is we prodigals get a chance to make things right.
That’s the theme of this book. It is about my life in the
kingdom (the gospel), my drift into extravagant selfishness, and
my ultimate attempt to turn things around. Or, I should say,
God’s attempt to turn things around. The only spiritual memoirs
worth their salt, I’ve found, are never about people but about
God working marvels in the lives of people—especially stubborn
And my stubbornness has taken a toll. I am sixty-two now, but
nobody tells me I look fifty-two or even that I’m a “young sixty-two.”
That’s because flattery, to be believed, must contain a smidgen
of truth. And my face has obviously logged many needless miles.
Oh, I’m not yet in cahoots with poet W. H. Auden, who said his
face resembled “a wedding cake left out in the rain.” But my countenance
is growing as woeful as Quixote’s. My face is a road map
of the many byways I’ve traveled—most of them leading to dead
When you’re a prodigal son, you get around. And like the
author of the hymn “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” I have
been “prone to wander.”
In that respect, this book is my travelogue. This isn’t “the road
not taken,” it’s the road taken. And it’s a cautionary tale to all those
who are tempted to follow in my footsteps.
My story, you’ll find, has many nouns in it—a lot of people,
places, things, and ideas. Bolivia, Mexico, Montana, and Utah
all show up here. As do several leaders of the LDS Church, some
former teachers, hockey players, flight attendants, Bob Dylan,
Shakespeare, cab drivers, C. S. Lewis, and more than a few salt-ofthe-
earth Latter-day Saints.
There’s a young man and an old man, a person of faith and a
fool, a seeker, a finder, a loser—and those are just the roles I play
in the book.
Don’t worry. I’ve put in plenty of markers and road signs so
you’ll know where you are in my life—something I seldom knew
as I was living it.
As for the passing years, I’ve found I tend to live them out
in well-measured chunks. About forty years ago I was an LDS
missionary in Bolivia. That is here.
Some twenty years ago I returned to the Church after spending
twenty years as a post-mission apostate. That’s here as well.
But the one event that pulls everything together—the drawstring
that serves to cinch up the splayed corners of my life—
happened in the year 2000 when the Deseret News sent me to
Bolivia to cover President Gordon B. Hinckley’s dedication of
the Cochabamba temple. It was both a moment of truth and a
moment for truth. Looking back, I can see my life pivoting on that
return trip to Bolivia like an angel on the head of a pin.
And that return trip to Bolivia, as the old-time radio announcers
would say, is where our story begins.