Sermon Illustrations

A number of years ago I received a three-year assignment to Okinawa, Japan, as part of my Air Force experience. Hardly anybody I knew had much knowledge of that part of the world, so we really had no idea what to expect. We were in for a number of surprises!

We lived in a motel, basically, for a couple of weeks or so until we found a house to rent. This took place in February and March, part of the region’s rainy season, and rain it did in those days. The house was made of concrete, we were told, and one of the strangest things I’ve seen from that day to this was the rain coming down from the ceiling! Some may call it condensate or whatever but if it’s dripping on your bed, then it’s raining, friend. One morning we woke up to a puddle on the bed;s covers and joked about it being big enough for some goldfish!

But the worst part was the mold and mildew on our clothes and shoes. During those days, my wife had a pair of very nice J. C. Penney’s shoes that she wore to church and other dressy occasions. As I recall, they were made of patent leather, had a very glossy black sheen, and they were very pretty indeed, with one obvious exception:

They didn’t look very good at all in green. As in mold, or mildew. Take your pick.

All we know for sure is that we left her shoes in the closet. That’s all it took for the moisture to do its work and perfectly, practically, ruin a good pair of shoes. They were in such bad condition, that we sadly wound up tossing those shoes in the trash. And they weren’t cheap, either. Even so, I wasn’t about to ask her to place her feet in them.

Jesus didn’t necessarily have shoes in mind, or even islands in the South Pacific, when in the Sermon on the Mount He said to basically stop keeping your treasures, the things you hold dear and sacred, on earth because thieves can break into your house and steal anything. He also said that moths can corrupt or eat your clothes (most of the people wore woolen clothing in those days) and rust can spread like gangrene (Matthew 6:33-34).

What a lesson for us: keep a close eye on our own clothing and other possessions here, and remember what is important in the future. After all, the Bank of Heaven has never had a failure, has never been bought or sold, and its assets are guaranteed to last forever!

Sure, eventually we left Okinawa and returned to the USA. The lessons we learned there, though, have followed us for a long time. I hope we never forget them.

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