JACKSON, Miss. (BP)–I got a call not long ago from a genealogical society that has done thorough research on Old Testament characters.
They went to 1 Chronicles, which lists members of the Hebrew family tree. And they continued delineating relatives of those people down to today’s time.
What they’ve discovered will change my life. They found that I am a direct descendent of Jabez.
Anyone who reads anything at all will know that there is a tiny book on the best-seller lists called “The Prayer of Jabez.”
The book, by Bruce Wilkinson, discusses Jabez’ prayer to God asking for a blessing, increase in territory, to be kept from evil, and that he not cause pain.”
Today there is a plethora of “Jabezory.” That is to say, you can find Jabez calendars, framed mottos, jewelry and a hundred other souvenirs touting my ancestor’s prayer.
How does this change my life? It seems that these producers of Jabezory have taken what is known about Uncle Jabez and stolen the results of his personal prayer, making millions in the process.
What the researchers, supported by a gaggle of lawyers, have done is to report to me that I actually own any products that refer to Jabez in any way.
It’s nothing new. The descendants of Mr. Presley still own his likeness and any money that is earned using what he said or did still belongs to the family.
Not long ago a judge ruled that the families still owned the likenesses of the Three Stooges.
I think I have just become a multi-millionaire. These guys are now my lawyers and I have given them permission to prosecute these thieves to the full extent of the law.
Several judges (especially one named Deborah) have requested that should this come to trial, they want this in their court.
Bruce Wilkinson has surrendered already. He sent me this morning all of his royalties for the book he wrote about my Unk.
Of course, every cloud that has a silver lining also seems to have a thunderstorm underneath. This morning I got a letter from a lawyer representing a guy who prayed the prayer of Jabez about a year ago, trusting that if he prayed the same prayer he would prosper just like Jabez. Then he invested heavily in the stock market, losing his shirt.
The lawyer heard that I am Jabez’ descendant and decided that just as I get the benefits of The Prayer, I should pay the penalties. He sent me a bill for $138,493 for the guy’s losses. And he sent me a copy of his ad that’s on the Internet offering to represent any others that have losses from Jabez’ prayer.
I phoned him immediately to explain that just because God granted Jabez his request there was no promise to any others a financial boon.
God, I explained to the attorney, probably didn’t mean the prayer was a cash cow; otherwise we would be controlling God. Clearly, God never intended for all people to be rich. Remember what he said about the poor being with us always? Well, they probably prayed Jabez’ prayer and only increased their ability to witness for God, and never filled their barns with filthy lucre.
The lawyer said he already had a hundred lawsuits ready. They’d probably go class action before it would be over.
Then this afternoon I got a call from the chief genealogist reporting that they had made a slight error in determining my ancestral background. It seems that instead of being a descendant of Jabez, I am a direct descendant of one of Jabez’ brothers, one named Elvez.
Okay, I realize that the Bible notes that “Jabez was more honorable than his brothers.” But I think that lets me off the hook. I’m calling that lawyer right now to stop the lawsuits and I’m sending Bruce back his check.
Maybe I’ll see if I’m related to Peter. He couldn’t keep his mouth shut, either.
Nicholas is a writer with the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board in Jackson and an adjunct journalism professor at Mississippi College.