Sermon Illustrations

I am only vaguely aware of how God fits everything together. But, often looking back we see more clearly. I was searching through some old papers and came across a note from Sarah Hollis. Sarah was Carrie’s age (10) when we went to Jacksonville, Florida. She rode our van to church each week – her parents never came. I had the privilege of baptizing Sarah.

One Sunday she came to me with a two-fold request. She wanted me to pray for her uncle and his wife, and also go see them to “baptize their baby”. When I met Sarah’s uncle and his wife it was clear they had very little church background. What they had was worried hearts over a very sick, premature baby in an incubator. They wanted me to baptize their baby; the doctors said he was going to die within a day or so. My heart went out to them. As a Baptist pastor I couldn’t baptize this infant, but I would pray for him with everything I had.

I was fearful of the trust that couple placed in me as they asked me to talk to God for their son. I told them the little kitten-sized child was in God’s hand. I held their hands and we prayed.

That was in 1990. Five years later Sarah wrote me this note:

…I still remember the day you prayed for Scott (my cousin) and gave his parents faith and helped them believe. On the 28th of this month he turns 5 year[s] old. Today is his party. Thank you for giving me the faith and hope. Thank you, Sarah Hollis

Sarah remembered that day as a time when her pastor gave her faith. At the time my main thought was frustration over Sarah putting me in an awkward situation about baptizing a baby. I’d never even laid eyes on his parents. I went, because I was her pastor. But I went, mostly because I couldn’t deny Sarah’s pleading eyes.

Looking back, I know, and she also probably knows, it was God who gave her faith. In the end, God used a pastor doing his job to build faith in a little girl. And God used a 10 year-old kid’s faith to spur a forty-something, Christian pastor into good works. Sarah impacted my life with her faith, and my faith was strengthened because of her impact.