Sermon Illustrations


Max Lucado tells about taking his two daughters to a park. They went into a plastic ball pit to play. One of those 3-foot-deep pits filled with thousands and thousands of lightweight, plastic balls. Max’s older daughter did just fine, but the younger one was only three, and she struggled.

As soon as she stepped into the pit, she filled her arms with balls. It’s hard enough for a three-year-old to walk through a waist-deep pile of balls with your arms spread to keep your balance -- and it’s impossible to do so with your arms full. So little Andrea took a step and fell. She tried to get up without letting go of the balls. She couldn’t do it and began to cry.

Max walked over to the edge of the pit and said, "Andrea, let go of the balls, and you can walk." "No," she screamed getting deeper and deeper. Trying to be wise and patient, Max said, "Andrea, if you let the balls go, you’ll be able to walk." She said, "No!" took two steps and fell again.

Parents weren’t allowed in the pit, so Max asked his older daughter, Jenna, to come over and help her sister get back on her feet. But Jenna wasn’t strong enough, and Andrea was still hanging on to the balls she grabbed when she first stepped into the pit. Jenna said, "Daddy, I can’t get her up." So Max said, with a great deal more irritation in his voice, "Andrea, let go of the balls so you can get up!" The cry from beneath the balls was muffled but clear: "Nooo!"

Max thought to himself, "She’s got what she wants, and she’s going to hold on to it if it kills her." The next step was to tell Jenna to take the balls away from her sister. So they engaged in hand-to-hand combat for a while, until finally the attendant told Max he could go on in to get them out.

Later Max reflected, "What is it that makes children immobilize themselves by clutching toys so tightly?" Then he thought, "Whatever it is, they learned it from their parents. That child’s determination to hold onto those balls is nothing compared to the grips we put on the things this world has to offer. And if you think Jenna’s job of trying to take those balls away from Andrea was tough, try prying our fingers away from our earthly treasures. The way we clutch our possessions and our pleasures, you’d think we couldn’t live without them. Our resistance to the Father is just as childish as Andrea’s. God wants us to loosen our grip for our own good, but sometimes we refuse to let go.

(Source: Max Lucado, from a sermon by Rick Crandall, "Start Walking in Purity" 7/13/08,

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