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Sermon illustrations

Desperation

Desperation is a Good Thing

As strange as it may sound, desperation is a really good thing in the spiritual life. Desperation causes us to be open to radical solutions, willing to take all manner of risk in order to find what we are looking for. Desperate ones seek with an all-consuming intensity, for they know that their life depends on it.

Like the cancer patient who travels to a foreign country in the quest for cures that can’t be found in familiar territory, spiritual seekers embark on a quest for that which cannot be found within the borders of life as we know it. We embark on a search for healing that has not been found in all the other cures we have beyond the human constructs structs that cannot fully contain the Divine.

Ruth Haley Barton, Invitation to Solitude and Silence: Experiencing God’s Transforming Presence, The Transforming Center Set.

Sharing or Stealing Their Last Ration

In 1908, Irish explorer Ernest Shackleton headed an Antarctic expedition attempting to reach the South Pole. They came closer than any before but, 97 miles short of the pole, had to turn back.

In his diary Shackleton told of the time when their food supplies were exhausted save for one last ration of hardtack, a dried sort of biscuit, that was distributed to each man. Some of the men took snow, melted it, and made tea while consuming their biscuit. Others, however, stowed the hardtack in their food sacks, saving it for a last moment of hungry desperation.

The fire was built up, and weary, exhausted men climbed into their sleeping bags to face a restless sleep, tossing and turning. Shackleton said he was almost asleep when out of the corner of his eye, he noticed one of his most trusted men sitting up in his bag and looking about to see if anyone was watching.

 Shackleton’s heart sank within him as this man began to reach toward the food sack of the man next to him. Shackleton watched as the man opened the food sack and took his own hardtack and put it in the other s sack.

Harold J. SalaHeroes, Barbour, 1998, pp- 277-278.

Two Gods on My Side

The Athenian general and politician Themistocles eventually alienated a large number of Greek City-States that came under their rule in the late 6thand early 5thcenturies B.C. With his fleet of ships anchored off a small island, he sent a message to one such vassal state, saying he had two powerful gods on each side of him that would compel them to pay up-Persuasion and Force. The leaders of the small island sent back a message that said they had two equally powerful gods on their side-Poverty and Despair…

Stuart Strachan Jr.