young musician's concert was poorly received by the critics. The famous Finnish composer Jean Sibelius consoled him by patting him on the shoulder and saying, "Remember, son, there is no city in the world where they have erected a statue to a critic." — Haddon Robinson Denver, Colorado
n Youthworker Journal, Will Eisenhower recalls one night as a counselor at a Bible camp:
"It had been an exhausting day; the guys in my cabin were asleep; and I was dead to the world. Then there came a dim awareness: Ants were crawling all over my body. I was so tired, and sleep felt so good, that I actually resisted rousing myself. I knew that if I were roused even a little bit, I would have to acknowledge that my sleeping bag had become an ant freeway. I didn't want to know the awful truth, so for at least several seconds I tried to fight it. At some deep level, I told myself that sleep was the reality and the ants were a dream.
"Apathy is sort of like sleeping through an ant attack. Waking up means I have to recognize that although foxes have safe places to hide, the Son of Man doesn't, and his followers don't either. This world is fundamentally opposed to me, and wants to attack me when I am least prepared for it. No wonder some of us would rather stay asleep."
— Doug Van Essen Muskegon, Michigan
en. Mark Hatfield recounts the following history: James Garfield was a lay preacher and principal of his denominational college. They say he was ambidextrous and could simultaneously write Greek with one hand and Latin with the other.
In 1880, he was elected president of the United States, but after only six months in office, he was shot in the back with a revolver. He never lost consciousness. At the hospital, the doctor probed the wound with his little finger to seek the bullet. He couldn't find it, so he tried a silver-tipped probe. Still he couldn't locate the bullet.
They took Garfield back to Washington, D.C. Despite the summer heat, they tried to keep him comfortable. He was growing very weak. Teams of doctors tried to locate the bullet, probing the wound over and over. In desperation they asked Alexander Graham Bell, who was working on a little device called the telephone, to see if he could locate the metal inside the president's body. He came, he sought, and he too failed.
The president hung on through July, through August, but in September he finally died—not from the wound, but from infection. The repeated probing, which the physicians thought would help the man, eventually killed him.
So it is with people who dwell too long on their sin and refuse to release it to God.
— Roger Thompson Wheat Ridge, Colorado
ome years ago I read about a speedboat driver who had recently survived a racing accident. He said that he had been at near top speeds when his boat veered slightly and hit a wave at a dangerous angle. The combined force of his speed and the size and angle of the wave sent the boat spinning crazily into the air. He was thrown from his seat and propelled deeply into the water—so deep, in fact, that he had no idea which direction the surface was. He had to remain calm and wait for the buoyancy of his life vest to begin pulling him up. Once he discovered which way was up, he could swim for the surface.
Sometimes we find ourselves surrounded by confusing options, too deeply immersed in our problems to know "which way is up." When this happens, we too can remain calm, waiting for God's gentle tug to pull us in the proper direction. Our "life vest" may be other Christians, Scripture, or some other leading from the Holy Spirit, but the key is recognizing our dependency upon God and trusting him.
— Mark Rader Palmyra, Illinois
met a young man not long ago who dives for exotic fish for aquariums. He said one of the most popular aquarium fish is the shark. He explained that if you catch a small shark and confine it, it will stay a size proportionate to the aquarium. Sharks can be six inches long yet fully matured. But if you turn them loose in the ocean, they grow to their normal length of eight feet.
That also happens to some Christians. I've seen some of the cutest little six-inch Christians who swim around in a little puddle. But if you put them into a larger arena—into the whole creation—only then can they become great.
— Charles Simpson
in Pastoral Renewal
ur habitual misuse of words has led us to imagine that Christian freedom consists in the moment, and we protest against anything that would put fetters upon this liberty. . . .
True spontaneousness is
the fruit of discipline. It is
the artist who has mastered
the technique of his art
most perfectly who can best
respond to the vision and
inspiration of the moment.
— Emily Herman
in Creative Prayer
t was a fog-shrouded morning, July 4, 1952, when a young woman named Florence Chadwick waded into the water off Catalina Island. She intended to swim the channel from the island to the California coast. Long-distance swimming was not new to her; she had been the first woman to swim the English Channel in both directions.
The water was numbing cold that day. The fog was so thick she could hardly see the boats in her party. Several times sharks had to be driven away with rifle fire. She swam more than 15 hours before she asked to be taken out of the water. Her trainer tried to encourage her to swim on since they were so close to land, but when Florence looked, all she saw was fog. So she quit . . . only one-half mile from her goal.
Later she said, "I'm not excusing myself, but if I could have seen the land I might have made it." It wasn't the cold or fear or exhaustion that caused Florence Chadwick to fail. It was the fog.
Many times we too fail, not because we're afraid or because of the peer pressure or because of anything other than the fact that we lose sight of the goal. Maybe that's why Paul said, "I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:14).
Two months after her failure, Florence Chadwick walked off the same beach into the same channel and swam the distance, setting a new speed record, because she could see the land.
— John Cochran Joplin, Missouri
| W |
e often fail to consider the gradual, cumulative effect of sin in our lives. In Saint Louis in 1984, an unemployed cleaning woman noticed a few bees buzzing around the attic of her home. Since there were only a few, she made no effort to deal with them. Over the summer the bees continued to fly in and out the attic vent while the woman remained unconcerned, unaware of the growing city of bees.
The whole attic became a hive, and the ceiling of the second-floor bedroom finally caved in under the weight of hundreds of pounds of honey and thousands of angry bees. While the woman escaped serious injury, she was unable to repair the damage of her accumulated neglect.
— Robert T. Wenz Clifton Park, New Jersey
HE MUST INCREASE'
very young student knows of Isaac Newton's famed encounter with a falling apple. Newton discovered and introduced the laws of gravity in the 1600s, which revolutionized astronomical studies.
But few know that if it weren't for Edmund Halley, the world might never have learned from Newton.
It was Halley who challenged Newton to think through his original notions. Halley corrected Newton's mathematical errors and prepared geometrical figures to support his discoveries. Halley coaxed the hesitant Newton to write his great work, Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy. Halley edited and supervised the publication, and actually financed its printing even though Newton was wealthier and easily could have afforded the printing costs.
Historians call it one of the most selfless examples in the annals of science. Newton began almost immediately to reap the rewards of prominence; Halley received little credit.
He did use the principles to predict the orbit and return of the comet that would later bear his name, but only after his death did he received any acclaim. And because the comet only returns every seventy-six years, the notice is rather infrequent. Halley remained a devoted scientist who didn't care who received the credit as long as the cause was being advanced.
Others have played Halley's role. John the Baptist said of Jesus, "He must become greater; I must become less." Barnabus was content to introduce others to greatness. Many pray to uphold the work of one Christian leader. Such selflessness advances the kingdom.
— C. S. Kirkendall, Jr. Knoxville, Tennessee
| I |
sat briefly with an old dollar bill in my hand, feeling its softness, wondering where it had been. What other hands had grasped it or given it? What human toil had earned it, spent it, earned it again? What small human needs had it fulfilled in its time? Was it once stolen, lost, found? Had anyone ever noticed it? For a moment, money seemed almost like breath, like the air that circulates among us all, continuously given and received, linking us in a deep, spiritual intimacy with God and one another.
We are all familiar with how money can be an idol; how it so easily becomes a substitute for God, encouraging our attachment by promising security, happiness and power. . . . But could money really be an icon ... a vehicle for seeing and being seen by God? — Gerald May in Shalem News
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 41