Sermon illustrations


Finally Discovering Lordship

“A young man came to visit me with a question on his mind. He asked, “I prayed to receive Jesus as my Savior, but why has nothing really changed in my life?” I asked him, “Who is running your life?” He replied, “I am!” I inquired further, “Has anyone informed you that Jesus wants to be your Lord and run your life?” “No one has,” he answered. I then asked him, “Would you be willing to pray right now and give Jesus complete charge over your whole life?” He said, “Yes, I will.” He was very willing. After he accepted Jesus as his Lord and gave Him full authority and control, the young man’s life changed. He reported having a new desire to be with Christians, to pray, to read his Bible and also to share about his new life with others.

Allowing the Lordship of Christ in our lives, that is allowing the Lord Jesus Christ to own and manage our lives as our Lord, is actually a step toward real freedom. Every person must wrestle through the question of who will own and manage his or her life. This involves coming to a place of acknowledging Jesus Christ as Lord, including surrendering and yielding his or her will to Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ will never be an assistant. Our role is always subordinate to His role. He cannot play a back-up position. He will either have full authority or no authority. If we ever think we can share the top sport, we are just fooling ourselves. Either we are in charge or we have surrendered to Him, and surrender can never be forced…He needs to be number one, every day, all the time! He wants us to follow Him 100%.

Les Goertz, Not-Yet Christian, Miles Marker Press.

He’s Got the Whole World…on His Shoulders

Bruce Larson had an unusual way of convincing people to turn their lives over to Jesus Christ.  When he was working in New York City, he would walk a man or woman downtown to the front of the RCA building on Fifth Avenue.  In front of the building there is a gigantic statue of a massively proportioned, magnificently muscled Atlas, the world resting on his shoulders.  As powerfully built as he is, he is straining under the weight, barely able to stand.  Larson would say, “Now that’s one way to live, trying to carry the world on your shoulders.  But now come across the street with me.”

Across the street is St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  There behind the altar is a little shrine of the boy Jesus.  He appears to be no more than eight or nine years old.  As little and as frail as he appears, he is holding the world in one hand!  Then Larson would say, “We have a choice.  We can carry the world on our shoulders, or we can say, ‘I give up, Lord; here’s my life.  I give you my world, the whole world.’”

Taken from Waiting: Finding Hope When God Seems Silent by Ben Patterson Copyright (c) 1989 by Ben Patterson. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

The Trapeze Analogy [Part 1]

Many have found the trapeze to be a rich metaphor for the concept of surrender. One reason this metaphor resonates has to do with one of several meanings of the word surrender: “to give over, to return that which truly belongs to another.” It carries the implication of putting one’s full weight on something or someone. And there is probably no better metaphor for putting yourself into the hands of another than suspending yourself in midair, waiting to be caught. This metaphor became central to Henri Nouwen’s faith.

At the end of his life, Nouwen took a sabbatical and gave serious effort to learning the trapeze from a troupe of fliers. It may seem like an odd thing for a brilliant scholar to do, but given that his life was in many ways haunted by a struggle for control, it makes perfect sense. He wanted to bask in the reality of the metaphor by hanging in midair and learning to be caught. His key insight was that in order to be caught safely, the people being caught must be completely still. They must surrender control, placing total trust in the catcher’s ability. As Nouwen was hanging in the air, dependent on another, his faith was nourished through the tangible release of control.

Adapted from The Burden Is Light: Liberating Your Life from the Tyranny of Performance and Success. Copyright © 2019 by John Tyson. Used by permission of Multnomah, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

The Trapeze Analogy [Part 2]

The word trapeze—the little bar between the ropes that a trapeze artist has to let go of—comes from the ancient Greek trapeza, meaning table. About the only time it is used in the New Testament is when the writer claims that Jesus gathers his friends around the table, the trapeza, what we now call the Communion table, and teaches them that he will have to let go of his life for them and that the only way to hang on to one’s life is to let it go.

Then he climbs the cross and lets go. He hangs above the earth for three hours with his hands stretched out, not moving a muscle. “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit,” he breathed. When he did that, he was saving us, and he was teaching us about trust. Here’s the leap: God comes to you and says, “Let go. Will you let go?”

John Ortberg, Faith and Doubt (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008), 169–70.


A Walled City

If you think of a problem as being like a medieval walled city, then a lot of people will attack it head-on, like a battering ram. They will storm the gates and try to smash through the defenses with sheer intellectual power and brilliance. I just camp outside the city. I wait. And I think. Until one day — maybe after I’ve turned to a completely different problem — the drawbridge comes down and the defenders say, “We surrender.” The answer to the problem comes all at once.

Arthur McKinsey


See also Illustrations on Control, Dependence on God, Discipleship, Obedience

Still Looking for inspiration?

Consider checking out our quotes page on Surrender. Don’t forget, sometimes a great quote is an illustration in itself!

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