ecently our daughter received a document of almost infinite worth to a typical fifteen-year-old: a learner's permit for driving. Shortly thereafter, I accompanied her as she drove for the first time.
In the passenger seat, having no steering wheel and no brakes, I was, in a most explicit way, in her hands—a strange feeling for a parent, both disturbing and surprisingly satisfying.
As she looked to see whether the road was clear, we slowly pulled away from the curb. Meanwhile, I checked to determine not only that, but to see if the sky was falling or the earth quaking. If getting from here to there was the only thing that mattered, I would gladly have taken the wheel. But there were other matters of importance here, most of them having to do with my own paternal "letting go."
I experienced a strange combination of weakness and power. My understanding of weakness was simple: she was in control, I was not. But she was able to move to this level of adulthood because of what my wife and I had done. Our power had empowered her. Her newfound strength was attained from us. So as we pulled away from the curb, we all gained in stature.
—David Thomas in Marriage and Family Living
| I |
n the book Gaily the Troubadour, published in 1936, Arthur Guiterman wrote the following poem. Reading his observations, you wouldn't guess it was written nearly fifty years ago.
First dentistry was painless;
Then bicycles were chainless
And carriages were horseless
And many laws, enforceless. Next, cookery was fireless,
Telegraphy was wireless,
Cigars were nicotineless
And coffee, caffeinless. Soon oranges were seedless,
The putting green was weedless,
The college boy hatless,
The proper diet, fatless. Now motor roads are dustless,
The latest steel is rustless,
Our tennis courts are sodless,
Our new religions, godless.
n his book Written in Blood, Robert Coleman tells the story of a little boy whose sister needed a blood transfusion. The doctor explained that she had the same disease the boy had recovered from two years earlier. Her only chance for recovery was a transfusion from someone who had previously conquered the disease. Since the two children had the same rare blood type, the boy was the ideal donor.
"Would you give your blood to Mary?" the doctor asked.
Johnny hesitated. His lower lip started to tremble. Then he smiled and said, "Sure, for my sister."
Soon the two children were wheeled into the hospital room—Mary, pale and thin; Johnny, robust and healthy. Neither spoke, but when their eyes met, Johnny grinned.
As the nurse inserted the needle into his arm, Johnny's smile faded. He watched the blood flow through the tube.
With the ordeal almost over, his voice, slightly shaky, broke the silence. "Doctor, when do I die?"
Only then did the doctor realize why Johnny had hesitated, why his lip had trembled when he'd agreed to donate his blood. He'd thought giving his blood to his sister meant giving up his life. In that brief moment, he'd made his great decision.
Johnny, fortunately, didn't have to die to save his sister. Each of us, however, has a condition more serious than Mary's, and it required Jesus to give not just his blood but his life.
—Thomas Lindberg Stevens Point, Wisconsin
| A |
uthor Edgar Jackson poignantly describes l grief:
Grief is a young widow trying to raise her three children, alone.
Grief is the man so filled with shocked uncertainty and confusion that he strikes out at the nearest person.
Grief is a mother walking daily to a nearby cemetery to stand quietly and alone a few minutes before going about the tasks of the day. She knows that part of her is in the cemetery, just as part of her is in her daily work.
Grief is the silent, knife-like terror and sadness that comes a hundred times a day, when you start to speak to someone who is no longer there.
Grief is the emptiness that comes when you eat alone after eating with another for many years.
Grief is teaching yourself to go to bed without saying good night to the one who has died.
Grief is the helpless wishing that things were different when you know they are not and never will be again.
Grief is a whole cluster of adjustments, apprehensions, and uncertainties that strike life in its forward progress and make it difficult to redirect the energies of life.
—Robert Slater Moscow, Idaho
here's a wonderful story about a Chicago bank that once asked for a letter of recommendation on a young Bostonian being considered for employment.
The Boston investment house could not say enough about the young man. His father, they wrote, was a Cabot; his mother was a Lowell. Further back was a happy blend of Saltonstalls, Pea-bodys, and others of Boston's first families. His recommendation was given without hesitation.
Several days later, the Chicago bank sent a note saying the information supplied was altogether inadequate. It read: "We are not contemplating using the young man for breeding purposes. Just for work."
Neither is God a respecter of persons but accepts those from every family, nation, and race who fear him and work for his kingdom (Acts 10:34-35).
—Kathleen Peterson Chicago, Illinois
BODY OF CHRIST
emember putting your face above a headless frame painted to represent a muscle man, a clown, or even a bathing beauty? Many of us have had our pictures taken this way, and the photos are humorous because the head doesn't fit the body.
If we could picture Christ as the head of our local body of believers, would the world laugh at the misfit? Or would they stand in awe of a human body so closely related to a divine head?
ven if people reject the gospel, we still must love them. A good example of this was reported by Ralph Neighbour, pastor of Houston's West Memorial Baptist Church (in Death and the Caring Community, by Larry Richards and Paul Johnson):
Jack had been president of a large corporation, and when he got cancer, they ruthlessly dumped him. He went through his insurance, used his life savings, and had practically nothing left.
I visited him with one of my deacons, who said, "Jack, you speak so openly about the brief life you have left. I wonder if you've prepared for your life after death?"
Jack stood up, livid with rage. "You--------------------
Christians. All you ever think about is what's going to happen to me after I die. If your God is so great, why doesn't he do something about the real problems of life?" He went on to tell us he was leaving his wife penniless and his daughter without money for college. Then he ordered us out.
Later my deacon insisted we go back. We did.
"Jack, I know I offended you," he said. "I humbly apologize. But I want you to know I've been working since then. Your first problem is where your family will live after you die. A realtor in our church has agreed to sell your house and give your wife his commission.
"I guarantee you that, if you'll permit us, some other men and I will make the house payments until it's sold.
"Then, I've contacted the owner of an apartment house down the street. He's offered your wife a three-bedroom apartment plus free utilities and an $850-a-month salary in return for her collecting rents and supervising plumbing and electrical repairs. The income from your house should pay for your daughter's college. I just want you to know your family will be cared for."
Jack cried like a baby.
He died shortly thereafter, so wrapped in pain he never accepted Christ. But he experienced God's love even while rejecting Him. And his widow, touched by the caring Christians, responded to the gospel message.
—Van Campbell Homer, Louisiana
young boy, on an errand for his mother, L had just bought a dozen eggs. Walking out of the store, he tripped and dropped the sack. All the eggs broke, and the sidewalk was a mess. The boy tried not to cry.
A few people gathered to see if he was OK and to tell him how sorry they were. In the midst of the words of pity, one man handed the boy a quarter.
Then he turned to the group and said, "I care 25 cents worth. How much do the rest of you care?"
James 2:16 points out that words don't mean much if we have the ability to do more.
—Stanley C. Brown in Vital Sermons of the Day
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 clarity and imagination. For items used, leadership will pay $15. If the material has been previously published, please include the source.
Stories, analogies, and word pictures should be sent to: To Illustrate . . .
465 Gundersen Drive Carol Stream, IL 60188
WINTER QUARTER 55