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Sermon illustrations

Concerns

The Turnip and The Mud

One winter I sat in army fatigues somewhere near Anniston, Alabama, eating my supper out of a mess kit. The infantry training battalion that I had been assigned to was on bivouac. There was a cold drizzle of rain, and everything was mud. The sun had gone down.

I was still hungry when I finished and noticed that a man nearby had left something that he was not going to eat. It was a turnip. When I asked him if I could have it, he tossed it over to me. I missed the catch, and the turnip fell to the ground, but I wanted it so badly that I picked it up and started eating it, mud and all.

Time deepened and slowed down. With a lurch of the heart, I saw suddenly that not only was the turnip good, but the mud was good too, even the drizzle and cold were good, even the Army that I had dreaded for months was good.

Sitting there in the Alabama winter with my mouth full of cold turnip and mud, I could see at least for a moment how if you ever took truly to heart the ultimate goodness and joy of things, even at their bleakest, the need to praise someone or something for it would be so great that you might even have to go out and speak of it to the birds of the air.

Frederick Buechner, The Sacred Journey, Harper Collins.

The Two Farmers

When we moved up here to this neck of the woods and settled in on our farm, there was an old farmer who lived to the west of us and his older brother who lived to the east, and this is what we were told: The old farmer worried that his older brother felt the ache of aloneness when he woke up in his empty house down by Johnson’s Corner, so the farmer made sure one of his kids always dropped off a bucket of milk every night and left it there by his brother’s front door.

Said his herd of cows produced enough milk, so he wanted his brother to swallow down and taste it, that this was a place flowing with the milk and honey of kindness and that none of us are ever alone. Turned out, though, that the older brother was mighty concerned that the farmer didn’t have enough to offer around the table for his posse of kids, so the older brother made it a habit to head up after nightfall and leave a couple dozen eggs at the old farmer’s door—washed eggs of shades of white and paling green and earthy brown. Said his flock of hens produced enough eggs, so he wanted his brother to know that all needs are tucked underneath an attentive wing of provision and that none of us are ever alone.

Then one night in early spring, so the story goes, right after the song of the frogs had returned to the marsh at the back of Mr. Knapp’s farm and the whole dark world was being serenaded by a rising, croaking glory, it happened that the old farmer himself headed east with a bucket of milk and the older brother was heading west with a crate of eggs, and somewhere south of the bridge that crosses the Maitland River, the two brothers ran right into each other. Came face-to-face with each other in the shadows.

Recognized the other simply by how similar the other’s face looked to his own. In the bluing light, the two sat down on the warm earth and listened to the symphony of frog songs and the slow opening of each other’s lives. “It is best to be with those in time that we hope to be with in eternity” (Thomas Fuller). It is best to befriend those now who we hope to be his friend for all eternity. It is best to consider anyone a friend who drives us closer to God. The story goes that when the sun crept up over the horizon, it found the two brothers face-to-face there where McNaught Line meets Creamery Road, found them sitting at the crossroads. The truest Story never stops telling us: Wherever our roads cross with others’ roads, we can experience the power of the Cross. Wherever our roads cross with others’ roads, the Cross can be lifted high and lift us both up and into him. Wherever our roads cross, the Cross can make even us friends.

Taken from Ann Voskamp in Befriend: Create Belonging in an Age of Judgment, Isolation, and Fear by Scott Sauls. Copyright © 2016. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. 

 

Where Your Complaining Comes From

If right now you’re complaining about something, you’re not complaining because you have a lack of resources problem…

people problem,

…fairness problem,

physical health problem,

church problem,

marriage problem,

employment problem,

…neighbor problem,

or fallen-world problem.

Sure, you may be dealing with difficulty in one or more of these areas, but they are not the cause of your grumbling. Your tendency to complain is rooted at a deeper level.

Taken from Awe: Why it Matters to Everything We Think, Say, and Do by Paul David Tripp, © 2015, pp.95-96. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org.

See also Illustrations on ChallengesCircumstances

Still Looking for inspiration?

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

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