Sermon illustrations


How Did I Get Here?

In John Perkins’ memoir, Dream with Me, the civil rights leader describes how a life lived with God can change very suddenly, and what was seemingly impossible can become possible:

How in the world did I get here? The only answer I know to give is that these things can happen when you walk with God. It’s easy to look at a person—to see where he started and how far he has come—and think you know how the story will end. But I’ve learned what Saul learned on the road to Damascus: when God’s involved, everything can change in an instant.

You may think you know where you’re headed, but often God has a different plan—something “exceedingly abundantly above all that [you] ask or think” (Eph. 3:20 NKJV). Sometimes a light drizzle becomes a deluge. Other times you open your eyes to find yourself by still waters. Sometimes you hear thunder clapping along with the rain. Other times the clouds disappear so you can see a billion stars in the sky.

John M. Perkins, Dream with Me, Baker Publishing Group.

Losing Everything

A ship went down in a storm, and only one man survived. He was fortunate enough to land on an uninhabited island in the South Pacific. With just a few items in his pocket, he was able to build a small shelter to protect himself from the rough weather they often experienced.

Once the shelter was built, the man had one goal: to find a ship that could rescue him and take him home to his family. Every morning the same routine, scan the horizon for ships. Every afternoon the same thing. Not wanting to miss any chance of being saved, the man would forage for food in the early evening.

One evening, as he completed his foraging campaign, he returned to see his shack in flames. Lightning had apparently struck while he was trying to find food. At this point he realized that not only had his shelter burned up, but all his tools as well. Everything was lost.

In a state of deep discouragement, the man sat on the beach contemplating death, wondering whether there was any hope left for him having lost everything. Tears rolled down his cheeks as he contemplated a bleak future. Eventually his exhaustion gave into sleep.

But when he woke up, the strangest thing appeared to him. He wondered if it was a mirage, because about a few hundred yards away, there was a ship, docked with sailors moving back and forth. Eventually, the captain approached him and said the most miraculous thing: ‘We saw your smoke signal, and so we came.”

The man had to lose everything before he could be rescued.

Stuart Strachan Jr.

The Perfect Storm

To understand why the Andrea Gail never had a chance, one needs only to search the clues along the shoreline of the Eastern Seaboard.

At first, it went by the name of the “Halloween Storm,” given its late-October fury. As far south as the North Carolina coastline, winds of 35 to 45 mph lashed the area for five consecutive days, and waves of 10 to 30 feet pounded the beach. In Rhode Island, a fisherman was swept off the rocks by heavy surf and killed. In New York, another man fishing from a bridge lost his life when he was either blown off the bridge, or swept off by high waves.

The New England coastline hammered so soundly, even a few lighthouses – buildings designed to survive the very worst weather – were damaged. With winds hovering around 65 to 75 mph, utility poles, trees, piers, sea walls and boardwalks simply disappeared. Thousands of lobster traps were destroyed. Flooding was extensive, invading homes, and closing roads and airports.

At sea, it was far worse.

At 80 degrees, the water of the Atlantic that fall week in 1991 was still very warm, almost tropical. But the seasons had changed in New England, and a cold front from Canada was racing across the northeastern corner of the country. At the same time, a hurricane was forming in the warm ocean water, moving toward a collision with the cold front in what soon became known as “The Perfect Storm.”

The Andrea Gail had a crew of six, and the small fishing vessel was caught square in the crosshairs of the colliding storms. Sustained winds of 60 knots and sea swells of 39 feet were recorded, and unconfirmed reports told of even stronger winds and higher waves. The movie that told her story, and coined the phrase “the perfect storm,” painted a graphic picture of a crew caught in the middle of overwhelming difficulty, pressed in on every side by the colliding weather patterns.

The fishing vessel went down sometime after midnight on Oct. 28, and ironically, its search and rescue, satellite-aided tracking system washed ashore a week later on Sable Island. Strangely enough, the tracking device was found with its power switched off. Could it have been an accident . . . or was it a case of a storm so overwhelming, so devastating, that the captain of the ship simply turned the device off as a symbolic gesture of giving in to the worst storm he’d ever seen? (Source: “The Perfect Storm, October 1991,” NOAA Satellite and Information Service, National Climatic Data Center.)

Andy Cook

Storms Defined in Scripture

For context, a storm in Scripture refers to an adverse set of circumstances. When the Bible speaks of a storm, the writer is conveying negative events entering into a life. A storm connotes trouble, tribulation, and trials. Storms seek to knock you over—mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. You are either in a storm, just heading out of a storm, or about to experience a storm. This is because life is full of troubles (John 16:33). That’s just the way it is, and I wouldn’t be doing my job as a teacher of truth if I told you otherwise.

Tony Evans, Kingdom Men Rising: A Call to Growth and Greater Influence, Bethany House Publishers, 2021.

See also Illustrations on AdversityChallenges, Direction, Endurance, Navigation, Pain, Resilience, Seas, Suffering