Nineteenth century Evangelist Dwight L. Moody was well known for his practical sermon illustrations. Here is an example:
“Suppose I hire two men to set out trees, and after a day or two I go out to see how they are getting along. I find that one man has set out a hundred trees, and the other only ten. I say:
“Look here; what does this mean? That man has set out a hundred trees, and you have set out only ten. What does this mean?”
“Yes, but he has cut off all the roots, and just stuck the tops into the ground.”
I go to the other man, and say: “What does this mean? Why have you planted all of these trees without roots?”
“I don’t believe in roots; they are of no account. My trees look just as well as his.”
But when the sun blazes upon the trees, they all wither and die.
There are a lot of people running around who haven’t got any roots. A good many live on negations. They are always telling what they don’t believe. I want a man to tell me what he does believe, not what he does not believe. And I like to meet a positive man. We just want to know what men do believe. ”
In a nutshell, what do you believe?
In his book Sabbatical Journeys, Henri Nouwen relates the story of some friends of his who were trapeze artists. They were with the circus, and their lives had an effect on him. They were called The Flying Roudellas.
They told Henri that there’s a very special relationship between the flyer and the catcher on the trapeze. The flyer is the one that lets go, and the catcher is the one that catches. This relationship is important – especially to the flyer.
When the flyer is swinging high above the crowd on the trapeze, the moment comes when he must let go. He arcs out into the air, and his job is to remain as still as possible and to wait for the strong hands of the catcher to pluck him from the air.
This trapeze artist told Nouwen, “The flyer must never try to catch the catcher. The flyer must wait in absolute trust. The catcher will catch him.”
He must wait. So should we.
“Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary” (Isaiah 40:31).
Let the Lord catch you.
Email is putting the Post Office out of business. Email communication is much quicker, is paperless, and much less expensive than sending a letter. And multiple large attachments are replacing expensive packages.
When I sent letters, I used to always put in an introductory paragraph, and then a closing paragraph. In emails, I just get right to the point. The body of the message is all I send. I still carefully choose my words, however, and usually reread it before I send it, because I don’t want to say the wrong thing and offend someone I care about.
Once I click on ‘Send’ it is gone. Where does it go from there? How do I know the message is on the way and how can I be sure they got it? I just have to trust the server and the mysterious internet system to get it there. It’s out of my control! Although I can’t see what’s happening, my faith in the internet system assures me that my letter is as good as there.
Likewise, whenever we’re faced with a problem, our faith is challenged. Knowing that it’s impossible to resolve the difficulty ourselves, we recognize our need of God’s help. First, though, we must go to Him in prayer. Until that moment, we’re still holding on to our problem. We know the situation won’t get resolved until we let go and commit it into God’s hands. Once we ‘Send’ the message, we then must trust God to take over until the problem is resolved in His way. We can’t see what He’s doing, but “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).
Three people were walking up a mountainside. The one in front was called Mr. Fact; the middle one, Mr. Faith; and the third, Mr. Feelings. When Mr. Faith looked at Mr. Feelings, he stumbled and made no progress. Then someone called to him: “Keep your eyes on Mr. Fact, not Mr. Feelings!” He obeyed and made the grade and soon reached the summit.
Mr. Faith lives inside of you. Don’t follow Mr. Feelings because he is fickle. Always keep your eyes on Mr. Fact. Mr. Fact resides in your Bible! Read it, follow it and keep your eyes on it and you will reach the summit.
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105).
Do you have experience looking at Mr. Feelings? What has been your experience with him?
One day in 1932, pianist, singer, and songwriter Thomas A. Dorsey (not big band leader Tommy Dorsey) discovered his need for God’s comfort. He left his pregnant wife Nettie at home in Chicago while he drove his Model A to St. Louis to sing at a revival meeting. All went well, and the crowd responded enthusiastically. At the end of Dorsey’s performance, he received a telegram with the tragic news that his wife had died in childbirth. Within hours, the baby boy also died.
Filled with grief, Dorsey sought answers. Should he have stayed in Chicago and not gone to St. Louis? Had God done him an injustice? A few days after Nettie’s death, Dorsey sat down at the piano and began to play. Finally sensing God’s peace and closeness, he began to sing some new words and play a new song:
Precious Lord, take my hand,
Lead me on, let me stand;
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn;
Through the storm, through the night,
Lead me on to the light;
Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3).
What is it you need from the God of all comfort?
A friend of actress and comedienne Gracie Allen once sent a small, live alligator to her as a gag. Not knowing what to do with it, Gracie put it in the bathtub and then left for an appointment. When she returned home, she found a note from her maid. “Dear Miss Allen: Sorry, but I have quit. I don’t work in houses where there is an alligator. I would have told you this when I started, but I never thought it would come up.”
How do you deal with unexpected surprises? Does your faith stay strong in spite of the alligators that appear out of nowhere? There will be a few of those alligators on the journey, you know.
Jesus warned His disciples of this in the Parable of the Soils when He said, “When tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles” (Matthew 13:21). We must wrestle those alligators!
What alligators are you wrestling this week?