Sermon Illustrations on Accidents

Background

Experiencing a New Reality with Disability

Many formerly active able-bodied people have had to learn a new pace in life after an accident or illness. Whether the condition is temporary or permanent, it isn’t easy. The memory and muscles still remember what it was like to jog around the neighborhood, ride a bike on the river trail, or keep up with a busy household. But now a new reality has set in.

What happens to your relationship with God in such times? Does He leave you in the dust? Does He run so far out in front of you that you can barely see Him anymore? Not at all. God wants to walk with us, and closeness is what matters, not speed. Today’s Scripture urges us to “walk by the Spirit.” No matter how fast or slow you may be moving these days, God will guide you. He is at your side every step of the journey.

Joni Eareckson Tada, A Spectacle of Glory: God’s Light Shining through Me Every Day< Zondervan, 2016.

Stories

It is Well

If you ever travel to Jerusalem and are looking for sites to see, beyond  all the ‘must-see’ sites related to Ancient Israel, the Temple Mount, and the sites associated with Jesus, you might venture to the American Colony Hotel. If you do so, you have the opportunity to see the handwritten lyrics of a song, written right on the wall.

It’s not so much the lyrics themselves that are worth seeing, as profound and moving as they are. But the story that is behind the lyrics. The song, or hymn, is “It is Well” by Horatio Spafford. Spafford lived in the latter half of the 19th century, and was a very successful lawyer and businessman, marrying and raising a family in Chicago. He was also a man of deep faith and an elder in the Presbyterian Church. Spafford’s life involved a series of searing losses that would cause even the most steadfast follower of Jesus to question their plight. The first major tragedy took place when his four year old son died, followed by the Great Chicago Fire in 1871, in which a major real estate investment was burned to the ground.
Two years later, the family had decided to take some time away with friends, sailing to Europe in November. Horatio, having a great deal of work left to do, decided to stay home instead of joining his family on the trip.

On the second of December, Spafford received a telegram that came from his wife Anna “Saved alone. What shall I do?” Spafford’s four daughters (Annie, age 12; Maggie, 7; Bessie, 4; and an 18-month old baby) all drowned when their ship, the Ville Du Havre, struck an iron sailing vessel somewhere in the Atlantic.

Horatio immediately sailed to England to meet his wife. It was on this journey he wrote these words:

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

(Refrain:) It is well (it is well),
with my soul (with my soul),
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
(Refrain)

My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to His cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
(Refrain)

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pain shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
(Refrain)

And Lord haste the day, when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.
(Refrain)

Most of us can hardly grasp what such a loss might be like. It’s almost unbearable to even consider. But Spafford’s faith kept him going, and not only that, it led him to eventually move to Jerusalem to serve people of all backgrounds.

At first, the Spafford’s moved into a house and began meeting with other Christians in a small society. Eventually, the movement outgrew that space and they moved into a larger house, which eventually became a hostel and then a hotel. It’s still there, and still serves a reminder that when all seems lost, it can still be well with our souls.

Stuart Strachan Jr.

The Power of the Worldwide Church

It is a phone call no parent wants to receive. “Jerry,” Bethany said, “Catherine’s had a little accident.” “Accident! How bad?” 

“She’s going to be okay. You want to talk to her? We’re in a kind of ambulance crossing the Andes, headed down to Quito. Here she is.”

My daughter Catherine and Bethany, one of her dear friends, spent the 2006-2007 school year in Central and South America, studying Spanish, traveling and serving in nonprofit organizations. They spent their last three months in Quito, Ecuador, working in a Catholic street ministry. During Mardi Gras weekend a number of volunteers and staff members, both Ecuadorians and Americans, rented a bus and traveled to the coast to spend a couple of days relaxing on the beach. 

Not surprisingly, the beach was packed with people. Catherine decided to go for a swim to escape the crowds…Swimming in deep water far from shore, she noticed a speed boat fast approaching her. The driver did not appear to see her. She yelled and waved as best she could, but to no avail. The boat continued on course. She finally decided to dive head first to get out of the way. She waited a split second too long. The prop caught her on her lower back. She knew immediately that she had been cut badly and would probably drown. Two thoughts immediately came into her mind, both quintessentially Catherine. The first expressed a sense of surprise, as if the accident were an irritating interruption. I wasn’t planning on dying this young, she said to herself. The second was a pleasant thought, borne out of the experience of losing her mother. I get to see my mom!

As it turned out, here first thought was the more accurate. Two young Ecuadorians witnessed the accident from shore and frantically swam to her reaching her in just enough time. Once on shore, she was rushed to a medical tent where an EMT began to work on her. He stopped the bleeding, cleaned out the gaping wounds and stitched her up as best he could. However nauseated, Bethany stood by her through the entire ordeal, holding her hand, praying for her and singing hand, praying for her and singing hymns to her. Another friend secured transportation back to Quito, the trip took roughly seven hours, much of it over gravel roads. Once in Quito, they took her to a missionary hospital where a plastic surgeon removed the provisional stitches, cleaned out the wounds and then sewed her back up with over a hundred stitches.

Over the next week, Catherine discovered what it means to belong to the worldwide church. As word spread, people in the U.S. contacted Christian friends in Quito, who began to visit and help her.  A retired missionary doctor, for example, stopped in to see her every day and took personal responsibility for her care. People sent letters, emails, flowers, and gifts. Though complete strangers, they treated her like a dear friend and showered her with attention and affection. She felt like a celebrity. Over the course of the next month she kept telling me about it, “I just can’t believe it Dad. Those people loved me for no other reason than that I needed to be loved.” “It’s the church,” I responded. I told her that when the church is functioning at its best, there is simply no community on earth that can rival it.

Gerald L. Sittser, Love One Another: Becoming The Church Jesus Longs For, InterVarsity Press.

Putting Life on Autopilot

There’s a true story about a couple who dreamed of one day driving across America during their “golden years.” They sold their home and bought a top-of-the-line RV. They took the trip seriously, investing time in lessons on how to drive, park, and navigate their massive vehicle as they prepared for their great journey. The husband began the drive but eventually became tired. He asked his wife to take the wheel while he rested. 

The wife got behind the wheel, turned on the vehicle, put on the cruise control, and began down the road. At first, everything was going fine-the wife stared out the window enjoying the scenery. Eventually, however, she decided she needed to go to the bathroom.

 She didn’t want to disturb her husband, so she got up, and walked to the back of the RV…Now…if you were listening carefully, you may be asking yourself, “Wait a second…her husband is still sleeping…who’s driving the motor home?” This is a good question. Because after the RV crashed and was completely totaled (thankfully, the couple was unharmed) and the police showed up, the wife told them she placed the vehicle on auto-pilot. There’s only one problem with that decision, their RV did not have “auto-pilot.” Sometimes we do the same thing with our spiritual life-turn on the auto-pilot.

Stuart Strachan Jr.

Sticking With One Another

Robert Wuthnow told a story about a man named Jack Casey, who worked as a member of an ambulance rescue squad.  When he was a child, Jack had oral surgery – five teeth pulled.  The little guy was terrified.  What he remembered most, though, is the operating room nurse who recognized the boy’s terror and said, “Don’t worry, I’ll be right here beside you no matter what happens.”  When Jack woke up after the surgery, she kept her word, and was standing right there next to him.

Twenty years later, Jack’s ambulance team is called out to an accident.  A truck has overturned, the driver is pinned in the cab, and they’re using power tools to cut him out of the cab.  But gasoline is leaking everywhere and the driver is terrified it’s going to catch fire and incinerate him.  So Jack crawls into the cab next to him and says, “Look, don’t worry, I’m right here with you; I’m not going anywhere.”  And Jack stayed with the man until they removed him from the wreckage.

Later the truck driver told Jack, “You were an idiot; you know that the whole thing could have exploded and we’d both (have died)!”  Jack told him that he just couldn’t leave him.

Thomas G. Long, Whispering the Lyrics, pp. 72-73.  Lima, Ohio: C.S.S. Publishing, 1995.

Analogies

Putting Life on Autopilot

There’s a true story about a couple who dreamed of one day driving across America during their “golden years.” They sold their home and bought a top-of-the-line RV. They took the trip seriously, investing time in lessons on how to drive, park, and navigate their massive vehicle as they prepared for their great journey. The husband began the drive but eventually became tired. He asked his wife to take the wheel while he rested. 

The wife got behind the wheel, turned on the vehicle, put on the cruise control, and began down the road. At first, everything was going fine-the wife stared out the window enjoying the scenery. Eventually, however, she decided she needed to go to the bathroom.

 She didn’t want to disturb her husband, so she got up, and walked to the back of the RV…Now…if you were listening carefully, you may be asking yourself, “Wait a second…her husband is still sleeping…who’s driving the motor home?” This is a good question. Because after the RV crashed and was completely totaled (thankfully, the couple was unharmed) and the police showed up, the wife told them she placed the vehicle on auto-pilot. There’s only one problem with that decision, their RV did not have “auto-pilot.” Sometimes we do the same thing with our spiritual life-turn on the auto-pilot.

Stuart Strachan Jr.

Humor

Putting Life on Autopilot

There’s a true story about a couple who dreamed of one day driving across America during their “golden years.” They sold their home and bought a top-of-the-line RV. They took the trip seriously, investing time in lessons on how to drive, park, and navigate their massive vehicle as they prepared for their great journey. The husband began the drive but eventually became tired. He asked his wife to take the wheel while he rested. 

The wife got behind the wheel, turned on the vehicle, put on the cruise control, and began down the road. At first, everything was going fine-the wife stared out the window enjoying the scenery. Eventually, however, she decided she needed to go to the bathroom.

 She didn’t want to disturb her husband, so she got up, and walked to the back of the RV…Now…if you were listening carefully, you may be asking yourself, “Wait a second…her husband is still sleeping…who’s driving the motor home?” This is a good question. Because after the RV crashed and was completely totaled (thankfully, the couple was unharmed) and the police showed up, the wife told them she placed the vehicle on auto-pilot. There’s only one problem with that decision, their RV did not have “auto-pilot.” Sometimes we do the same thing with our spiritual life-turn on the auto-pilot.

Stuart Strachan Jr.

More Resources

Related Themes

Click a topic below to explore more sermon illustrations! 

Confusion

Consequences

Criticism

Limitations

Mistaken Identity

Mistakes

Misunderstanding

& Many More