Ben Patterson, in Waiting, writes:
"In 1988, three friends and I climbed Mount Lyell, the highest peak in Yosemite National Park. Two of us were experienced mountaineers. 1 was not one of the experienced two. Our base camp was less than 2,000 feet from the peak, but the climb to the top and back was to take the better part of a day, due in large part to the difficulty of the glacier one must cross to get to the top. on jo:
"As the hours passed, the two mountaineers opened up a wide gap between me and my less-experienced companion. Being competitive by nature, I began to look for shortcuts to beat them to the top. I thought I saw one to the right of an outcropping of rock — so I went, deaf to the protests of my companion.
"Perhaps it was the effect of the high altitude, but ■ the significance of the two experienced climbers not choosing this path did not register in my consciousness. It should have, for thirty minutes later 1 was trapped in a cul-de-sac of rock atop the Lyell Glacier, looking down several hundred feet of a sheer slope of ice, pitched at about a forty-five degree angle. ... I was only about ten feet from the safety of a rock, but one little slip and I wouldn't stop sliding until I landed in the valley floor some fifty miles away! It was nearly noon, and the warm sun had the glacier glistening with slippery ice. I was stuck and I was scared.
"It took an hour for my experienced climbing friends to find me. Standing on the rock I wanted to reach, one of them leaned out and used an ice axe to chip two little footsteps in the glacier. Then he gave me the following
instructions: 'Ben, you must step out from where you are and put your foot where the first foothold is. When your foot touches it, without a moment's hesitation suing your cither foot across and land it on the next step. When you do that, reach out and I will take your hand and pull you to safety.'
"That sounded real good to me. It was the next thing he said that made me more frightened than ever. 'But listen carefully: As you step across, do not lean into the mountainMf anything, lean out a bit. Otherwise, your feet may fly out from under you, and you will start sliding down.'
"I don't like precipices. When I am on the edge of a cliff, my instincts are to lie down and hug the mountain, to become one with it, not to lean away from it! But that was what my good friend was telling me to do. I looked at him real hard. . . . Was there any reason, any reason at all, that I should not trust him? I certainly hoped not! So for a moment, based solely on what I believed to be the good will and good sense of my friend, I decided to say no to what I felt, to stifle my impulse to cling to the security of the mountain, to lean out, step out, and traverse the ice to safety. It took less than two seconds to find out if my faith was well founded. It was."
To save us, God often tells us to do things that are the opposite of our natural inclination. Is God loving and faithful? Can we trust him?
He is. We can.
Eating lunch at a small cafe, I saw a sparrow hop through the open door and peck at the crumbs near my table. When the crumbs were gone, the sparrow hopped to the window ledge, spread its wings, and took flight. Brief flight. It crashed against the window pane and fell to the floor.
The bird quickly recovered and tried again. Crash. And again. Crash.
I got up and attempted to shoo the sparrow out the door, but the closer I got the harder it threw itself against the pane. I
nudged it with my hand. That sent the sparrow fluttering along the ledge, hammering its beak at the glass.
Finally, I reached out and gently caught the bird, folding my fingers around its wings and body. It weighed almost nothing. I thought of how powerless and vulnerable the sparrow must have felt. At the door I released it, and the sparrow sailed away.
As I did with the sparrow, God takes us captive only to set us free.
—Mark Reed Camarillo, California
On June 6, 1981, Doug Whitt and his bride, Sylvia, were escorted to their hotel's fancy bridal suite in the wee hours of the morning. In the suite they saw a sofa, chairs, and table, but where was the bed?
Then they discovered the sofa was a hide-a-bed, with a lumpy mattress and sagging springs. They spent a fitful night and woke up in the morning with sore backs. The new husband went to the hotel desk and gave the management a tongue-lashing.
"Did you open the door in the room?" asked the clerk.
Doug went back to the room. He opened the door they had thought was a closet. There, complete with fruit baskets and chocolates, was a beautiful bedroom!
Opening all the doors in a honeymoon suite is like obeying all the words of Jesus. Discipleship is the door to happiness.
—Cynthia Thomas Glen Ellyn, Illinois
WorshipIn his book Good Morning Merry Sunshine, Chicago Tribune columnist Bob Greene chronicles his infant daughter's first year of life. When little Amanda began crawling, he records:"This is something I'm having trouble getting used to. I will be in bed reading a book or watching tv. And I will look down at the foot of the bed and there will be Amanda's head staring back at me."Apparently I've become one of the objects that fascinate her. . . . It's so strange. After months of having to go to her, now she is choosing to come to me. I don't know quite how to react. All I can figure is that she likes the idea of coming in and looking at me. She doesn't expect anything in return. I'll return her gaze and in a few minutes she'll decide she wants to be back in the living room and off she'll crawl again."The simple pleasure of looking at the one you love — what Bob and his daughter enjoyed — is what we enjoy each time we worship God and bask in his presence.—Greg Asimakoupoulos Concord, California
| HonestyIn the July 15, 1993 Boardroom Reports, Peter LeVine writes: "When the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey ran a help-wanted ad for electricians with expertise at using Sontag connectors, it got 170 responses — even though there is no such thing as a Sontag connector. The Authority ran the ad to find out how many applicants falsify resumes." |
| 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.Send contributions to:To Illustrate . . .Leadership465 Gundersen DriveCarol Stream, 1L 60188 |
| LEADERSHIP 47 |
On Monday, August 9, 1993, a 31-year-old woman, Sopehia Mardress White, burst into the hospital nursery at use Medical Center in Los Angeles, wielding a .38-caliber handgun. She had come gunning for Elizabeth Staten, a nurse whom she accused of stealing her husband. White fired six shots, hitting Staten in the wrist and stomach.
Staten fled, and White chased her into the emergency room, firing once more. There, with blood on her clothes and a hot pistol in her hand, the attacker was met by another nurse, Joan Black, who did the unthinkable. Black walked calmly to the gun-toting woman — hugged her.
Black spoke comforting words.
The assailant said she didn't have anything to live for, that Staten
had stolen her family.
"You're in pain," Black said. "I'm sorry, but everybody has pain in their life. ... I understand, and we can work it out."
As they talked, the hospital invader kept her finger on the trigger. Once she began to lift the gun as though she would shoot herself. Nurse Black just pushed her arm down and continued to hold her. At last Sopehia White gave the gun to the nurse. She was disarmed by a hug, by understanding, by compassion.
Black later told an ai> reporter, 'I saw a sick person and had to take care of her."
Jesus Christ looks upon us in a similar fashion, as persons sick and broken inside, in need of his care. And it is his embrace that disarms us.
—-Tom Tripp Colusa, California
A boy and his father were driving down a
Jerry Rice, who plays for football's San Francisco 49ers, is considered by many experts the best receiver in the NFL. Interviewers from Black Entertainment Television once asked Rice, "Why did you attend a small, obscure university like Mississippi Valley State University in Itta Bena, Mississippi?"
Rice responded, "Out of all the big-time schools (such as UCLA) to recruit me, MVSU was the only school to come to my house and give me a personal visit."
The big-time schools sent cards, letters, and advertisements, but only one showed Rice personal attention.
How much more important is the personal touch in matters of the heart, soul, and spirit. —Edward J. Robinson Urbana, Illinois
country road on a beautiful spring afternoon, when a bumblebee flew in the car window. The little boy, who was allergic to bee stings, was petrified. The father quickly reached out, grabbed the bee, squeezed it in his hand, and then released it.
The boy grew frantic as it buzzed by him. Once again the father reached out his hand, but this time he pointed to his palm. There stuck in his skin was the stinger of the
bee. "Do you see this?" he asked. "You don't need to be afraid anymore. I've taken the sting for you."
We do not need to fear death anymore. Christ has died and risen again. He has taken the sting from death.
—Adrian Dieleman Waupun, Wisconsin