Sermon Illustrations

For Love of Jim

Jim and Jack were the best of friends. Devoted. Inseparable. So when Jim lost both his legs in a railroad accident, Jack did everything he could to help. At first Jim was certain his career with the railroad was finished.. Then the company gave him another job¨Csignalman. His outpost was to be a lonely little stop more than 200 miles from anywhere. Jack went along to be whatever help he could be. After all, what are friends for?

Jim ahd barely recovered from the trauma of a double amputation when the RR had given him the new assignment. He would live in a little wooden shack about 150 yards from the signal tower. It was going to be lonely out there. And there would be many difficult adjustments. But Jack would help for a while anyway long enough for Jim to overcome those initial adjustments.

In the beginning Jack stuck around mostly for company. He swept out the shack and pumped water from the well and tended the garden - all things that Jack could not do. There was a little trolley¨Ca single seater that led from the shack to the signal tower. Jack pushed Jim on that trolley several times a day and stood there while Jim operated the big levers in sequence. Eventually, Jack got so familiar with Jim's routine that he began to walk out and operate the signal system himself.

Sure enough, pretty soon, in addition to house-cleaning and the rest, Jack gradually began to take over all the duties for the railroad - though officially he was not an employee! There was a lot to remember on that job, a lot to be done. Daily responsibilities at the signal tower included working the evers as well as the tower controls that opened and closed siding switches. But Jack never complained. After all, Jim was his friend. It was the least Jack could do.

For more than nine years Jack kept house for Jim. For more than nine years he made the daily trip to the tower to operate the heavy equipment - until one day when he died of tuberculosis.

In all those years, Jack never made a mistake, never threw a switch incorrectly, never sided a car in error. Not one accident or even a narrow miss was reported on that line.

Jack is buried in Cape Colony, South Africa, not far from the outpost where he worked for almost a decade, for his love for a friend. His grave is a silent testimony to selflessness. Oh, by the way, I don't think I mentioned that Jack, Jim's devoted friend, who cleaned house and pumped water and tended the garden and manned the switch tower was not a man at all. He was a baboon.

Now if an ape can demonstrate that kind of love, can't we who call ourselves Christians be know for our love more than anything else? Love is for giving away, not hoarding.

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