hen I was five years old, before factory-installed seat belts and automobile air bags, my family was involved in a head-on collision with a drunk driver.
After a visit to my grandparents' farm, we had been driving home at night on a two-lane country road. I was sitting on my mother's lap when the other car swerved into our lane. I don't have any memory of the collision. I do recall the fear and confusion I felt as I saw myself literally covered with blood from head to toe.
Then I learned that the blood wasn't mine at all, but my mother's. In that split second when the two headlights glared into her eyes, she instinctively pulled me closer to her chest and curled her body around my smaller frame. It was her body that slammed against the dashboard, her head that shattered the windshield. She took the impact of the collision so that I wouldn't have to, and my life was spared (and after extensive surgery, my mother eventually recovered from her injuries).
In a similar, but infinitely more significant way, Jesus Christ took the impact for our sin, and his blood now permanently covers our lives.
— Jeffrey Ebert Havertown, Pennsylvania
e wanted to conduct. His conducting style, however, was idiosyncratic. During soft passages he'd crouch extremely low. For loud sections, he'd often leap into the air, even shouting to the orchestra.
His memory was poor. Once he forgot that he had instructed the orchestra not to repeat a section of music. During the performance, when he went back to repeat that section, they went forward, so he stopped the piece, hollering, "Stop! Wrong! That will not do! Again! Again!"
For his own piano concerto, he tried conducting from the piano. At one point he jumped from the bench, bumping the candles off the piano. At another concert he knocked over a choir boy.
During one long, delicate passage, he jumped high to cue a loud entrance, but nothing happened because he had lost count and signaled the orchestra too soon.
As his hearing worsened, musicians tried to ignore his conducting and get their cues from the first violinist.
Finally the musicians pled with him to go home and give up conducting, which he did.
He was Ludwig van Beethoven.
As the man whom many consider to be the greatest composer of all time learned, no one is a genius of all trades.
— David Sacks Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania
n his book Stress Fractures, Charles Swindoll writes: I vividly remember some time back being caught in the undertow of too many commitments in too few days. It wasn't long before I was snapping at my wife and our children, choking down my food at mealtimes, and feeling irritated at those unexpected interruptions through the day. Before long, things around our home started reflecting the pattern of my hurry-up style. It was becoming unbearable.
I distinctly recall after supper one evening the words of our younger daughter, Colleen. She wanted to tell me about something important that had happened to her at school that day. She hurriedly began, "Daddy-I-wanna-tell-you-somethin'-and-I'll-tell-you-really-fast."
Suddenly realizing her frustration, I answered, "Honey, you can tell me . . . and you don't have to tell me really fast. Say it slowly." I'll never forget her answer: "Then listen slowly."
— Mike Schafer Lubbock, Texas
irst day in the sixth grade, I'll never forget it," recalls Jesse Jackson, who ran for president of the United States in 1988. "My teacher was Miz Shelton, and she began writing these long words on the blackboard we couldn't understand, never even heard of before. We all looked around and started whispering to each other, 'She got the wrong class. She thinks we the eighth-grade class.'
"Somebody finally called out, 'Uh, Miz Shelton? Those are eighth-grade words. We only the sixth grade here.'
"She turned around. 'I know what grade you are. I work here. I know what grade I'm teaching. And you'll learn every one of these words, and a lot more like them, before this year is over. I will not teach down to you. One of you little brats just might be mayor or governor, or even President, some day, and I'm gonna make sure you'll be ready.'
"And she turned back and went right on writing." At that time, Jackson says, her proposition prompted no glow of possibility in him. "Aim to be governor? Even aim to be mayor, when in Greenville then there wasn't a single African-American on the Board of Education, in the Police Department, the Fire Department? And aim to be President!?!"
Before any great accomplishment, someone must have a vision.
— from The New Yorker February 10, 1992
he mighty Niagara River plummets some 180 feet at the American and Horseshoe Falls. Before the falls, there are violent, turbulent rapids. Farther upstream, however, where the river's current flows more gently, boats are able to navigate. Just before the Welland River empties into the Niagara, a pedestrian walkway spans the river. Posted on this bridge's pylons is a warning sign for all boaters: Do you have an anchor? followed by,
Do YOU KNOW HOW TO USE IT?
Faith, like the capacity to anchor a boat, is something we need to develop and use before we face a cataclysm.
— Paul Adams Niagara Falls, Ontario
n The Essential Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Wat-terson, the cartoon character Calvin says to Hobbes, "I feel bad that I called Susie names and hurt her feelings. I'm sorry I did it."
"Maybe you should apologize to her," Hobbes suggests.
Calvin ponders this for a moment and then replies, "I keep hoping there's a less obvious solution."
When we want to restore our relationship with God, we need to remember that he has a liking for the obvious solution.
— Norm Langston Beaverton, Oregon
s an infantry company commander in Vietnam in 1967, I saw Viet Cong soldiers surrender many times.
As they were placed in custody, marched away, and briefly interrogated, their body language and facial expressions always caught my attention. Most hung their heads in shame, staring at the ground, unwilling to look their captors in the eye. But some stood erect, staring defiantly at those around them, resisting any attempt by our men to control them. They had surrendered physically but not mentally.
On one occasion after the enemy had withdrawn, I came upon several soldiers surrounding a wounded Viet Cong. Shot through the lower leg, he was hostile and frightened, yet helpless. He threw mud and kicked with his one good leg when anyone came near him.
When I joined the circle around the wounded enemy, one soldier asked me, "Sir, what do we do? He's losing blood fast and needs medical attention." I looked down at the struggling Viet Cong and saw the face of a 16- or 17-year-old boy.
I unbuckled my pistol belt and hand grenades so he could not grab them. Then, speaking gently, I moved toward him. He stared fearfully at me as I knelt down, but he allowed me to slide my arms under him and pick him up.
As I walked with him toward a waiting helicopter, he began to cry and hold me tight. He kept looking at me and squeezing me tighter. We climbed into the helicopter and took off.
During the ride, our young captive sat on the floor, clinging to my leg. Never having ridden in a helicopter, he looked out with panic as we gained altitude and flew over the trees. He fixed his eyes back on me, and I smiled reassuringly and put my hand on his shoulder.
After landing, I picked him up and walked toward the medical tent. As we crossed the field, I felt the tenseness leave his body and his tight grasp loosen. His eyes softened, and his head leaned against my chest. The fear and resistance were gone — he had finally surrendered.
The God to whom we surrender is not our enemy. He heals and cares for everyone he takes captive.
— Paul Stanley Colorado Springs, Colorado
cores of people lost their lives. The world's mightiest army was forced to abandon a strategic base. Property damage approached a billion dollars. AH because the sleeping giant, Mount Pinatube in the Philippines, roared back to life after 600 years of quiet slumber.
When asked to account for the incredible destruction caused by this volcano, a research scientist from the Philippine department of volcanology observed, "When a volcano is silent for many years, our people forget that it's a volcano and begin to treat it like a mountain."
Like Mount Pinatube, our sinful nature always has the potential to erupt, bringing great harm both to ourselves and to others. The biggest mistake we can make is to ignore the volcano and move back onto what seems like a dormant "mountain."
— Stephen Schertzinger Seattle, Washington
What are the most effective illustrations you've come across? We want to share them with other pastors and teachers who need material that communicates with imagination and impact. For items used, Leadership will pay $25. If the material has been published previously, please indicate the source.
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