Sermon Illustrations

I grew up with a young man who was like a brother to me, one that had always wanted. When he was around seventeen a devastating tragedy hit their family. His dad was killed in a car wreck. The thing that continues to haunt him to this day is that he never had a chance to say, “I’m sorry.”

Like most teenage boys he and dad (and mom for that matter) fussed and fought, a lot. In the heat of one of many battles a barrage of things were said.

James tells us one of the smallest parts of a ship (the rudder) will steer it through the ocean and a small bit will turn and control a horse, but the smallest member of our body –the tongue- is a world of evil itself. With a small spark he goes on to say, a great forest is set on fire.

With one angry word after the other…we don’t think some times, do we?

He never got to say, “I’m sorry” and so his world shattered even more devastatingly when he heard the news his dad had died. Over the years we lost a lot of contact, mostly because we grew up, partly because of his mom’s second marriage to a man who moved them to another part of town and basically out of our lives. I’d like to offer up a happy ending here, but as of my last update I can’t.

Shortly after graduation from high school (about six years after his dad died) I saw my friend again. I worked for the Corps of Engineers in a summer intern program and he was a part of a work detail (county inmates) at Beech Fork doing some brush removal and other maintenance.

He told me he had hoped I wouldn’t recognize, him…I almost didn’t. To a degree the county jail had been a second home to him as he couldn’t control his drinking, a problem that started shortly after his dad died. His mom has custody of his children (his wife passed away from cancer, I believe) and they don’t get to see much of dad either.

I tell you about my friend, because like him many of us have shattered stories. It may not be us, but is someone very close to us. A life that has been destroyed…by wrong choices…by running from God, instead of to him…by sinking within instead of reaching out…reaching out to the hand that saved Peter as he sank. That’s what life will do to us if we let it. Overwhelm us until our neck is all that remains above the angry waves…you know how it feels.