Sermon Illustrations

Pastor Jim Cymbala, in his book Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, tells how God answered fervent prayer on behalf of his daughter. He writes:

“Our oldest daughter, Chrissy, had been a model child growing up. But around age sixteen she started to stray,…not only from us but also away from God. In time, she even left our home. There were many nights when we had no idea where she was.

As the situation grew more serious, I tried everything. I begged, I pleaded, I scolded, I argued, I tried to control her with money,…nothing worked! She just hardened more and more.

While this was going on, (my wife) Carol needed an operation. (During the post-surgical depression that followed), the devil took the opportunity to come after her and say, ‘You have a big choir, and you’re making albums and doing outreaches at Radio City music Hall. Fine, you and your husband can go ahead to reach the world for Christ—but I’m going to have your children. I’ve already got the first one. I’m coming after the next two!’…One day (Carol) said to me, ‘Listen, we need to leave New York. I’m serious. This atmosphere has already swallowed up our daughter. We can’t keep raising our kids here!’

Then in November, …I received a call from a pastor friend I had persuaded Chrissy to talk to. He said, ‘Jim I love you and Carol, but Chrissy is going to do what Chrissy wants to do. She’s eightenn. She’s determined. You have to accept what she decides. You don’t have much choice!’

I hung up the phone. I couldn’t accept Chrissy being away from the Lord!

God strongly impressed me that I was to converse with no one but God. In fact, I should have no further contact with Chrissy—until God acted!

Christmas came and it was nearly impossible to keep my composure, trying to open presents with the other children and no Chrissy.

February came. One cold Tuesday night during prayer meeting, I talked from Acts 4 about how the church boldly calling on God in the face of persecution. We entered into a time of prayer, everyone reaching out to the Lord simultaneously.

An usher handed me a note. A young woman whom I felt to be spiritually sensitive had written: ‘Pastor Cymbala, I feel impressed that we should stop the meeting and all pray for your daughter.’

In a few minutes I picked up the microphone and told the congregation what had just happened. ‘The truth of the matter,’ I said, ‘although I haven’t talked much about it, is that my daughter is very far from God these days. She thinks up is down and down is up; dark is light and light is dark. But I know God can break through to her, and so I’m going to ask Pastor Boestaaf to lead us in prayer for Chrissy. Let’s all join hands across the sanctuary.’

To describe what happened in the next few minutes, I can only imply a metaphor: There church turned into a labor room…. There arose a groaning, a sense of desperate determination, as if to say, ‘Satan, you will NOT have this girl! Take your hands off!’

When I got home that night, I said (to Carol), ‘It’s over!’

‘What’s over?’ she wondered.

‘It’s over with Chrissy…I tell you, if there is a God in Heaven, this whole nightmare is finally over!’

Thirty-two hours later…as I was shaving, Carol burst through the door. ‘Go downstairs!’ she blurted. ‘Chrissy’s here! It’s you she wanted to see!’

I wiped...

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