Sermon Illustrations

Jenna and I boarded a -1:00 A.M. flight in Tel Aviv which would carry us back to the States. Travelling is always hectic, but that night it was especially bad. The plane was packed and we were delayed because of extra-tight airport security. As we boarded, I realized that our seats weren’t together. We were separated by an aisle. With no time to seek help from the front desk, I determined to persuade the fellow sitting next to Jenna to swap seats with me. Surely he’ll understand, I thought. He didn’t. He was already nestled down for the ten-hour flight and wasn’t about to move. "Please," I begged, "let me sit by my daughter."

"I’m not moving."

"Come on, sir. Let’s trade places."

He leaned up and looked at my seat and leaned back. "No thanks," he declined.

Growl. I took my seat and Jenna took hers next to the thoughtless, heartless scoundrel. As the plane prepared for take-off, I dedicated my mind to drawing a mental sketch of the jerk. Wasn’t hard. Only a glance or two in his direction and I had him pegged as a terrorist on his way to assassinate the president of our country. By the time the plane was backing up, I was plotting how I’d trip him if he dared walk to the restroom during the flight. No doubt he’d smuggled a gun on board and it would fall to me to apprehend him.

I turned to intimidate him with a snarl and saw, much to my surprise, Jenna offering him a pretzel. What? My daughter fraternizing with the enemy! And even worse, he took it! As if the pretzel were an olive branch, he accepted her gift and they both leaned their seats back and dozed off.

I eventually dozed myself, but not before I’d learned the lesson God had used my daughter to teach me.

In God’s house we occasionally find ourselves next to people we don’t like. If we could ask them to leave, we would, but we aren’t given the option. All of us are here by grace and, at some point, all of us have to share some grace. So the next time you find yourself next to a questionable character, don’t give him a hard time . . . give him a pretzel.

Max Lucado from "Just Like Jesus"