Fred Craddock was a seminary professor. Once, while he was lecturing at Yale University, he told of going back one summer to Gatlinburg, TN, to take a short vacation with his wife. One night they found a quiet little restaurant where they looked forward to a private meal—just the two of them.
While they were waiting for their meal they noticed a distinguished looking white-haired man moving from table to table, visiting guests. Craddock whispered to his wife, “I hope he doesn’t come over here.” He didn’t want the man to intrude on their privacy.
But the man did come by his table. “Where you folks from?” he asked amicably.
“Splendid state, I hear, although I’ve never been there. What do you do for a living?”
I teach homiletics at the graduate seminary of Phillips University.”
“Oh, so you teach preachers, do you. Well, I’ve got a story I want to tell you.” And with that he pulled up a chair and sat down at the table with Craddock and his wife. Dr. Craddock groaned inwardly. Oh, no, here comes another preacher story. It seems everyone has one.
The man stuck out his hand. “I’m Ben Hooper. I was born not far from here across the mountains. My mother wasn’t married when I was born so I had a hard time. When I started to school my classmates had a name for me, and it wasn’t a very nice name. I used to go off by myself at recess and during lunchtime because the taunts of my playmates cut so deeply.
“What was worse was going downtown on Saturday afternoon and feeling every eye burning a hole through you. They were all wondering just who my real father was.
“When I was about 12 years old a new preacher came to our church. I would always go in late and slip out early. But one day the preacher said the benediction so fast I got caught and had to walk out with the crowd. I could feel every eye in church on me. Just about the time I got to the door I felt a big hand on my shoulder. I looked up and the preacher was looking right at me.
“’Who are you, son? Whose boy are you?’
“I felt the old weight come down on me. It was like a big, black cloud. Even the preacher was putting me down.
“But as he looked down at...Continue reading this sermon illustration (Free with PRO)
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