Sermon Illustrations

A modern day story of perseverance in prayer:

Hands on --- show your key chain:

PUSH – I have had this key chain for at least 9 years – It is a constant reminder to me about the importance of perseverance in prayer –especially through difficult circumstances. The acrostic meaning of the key chain is:

P = Pray

U = Until

S = Something

H = Happens

This last week was a PUSH experience: Tell the story of the truck ordeal and the different dealers and the frustration and the money. The lessons learned.

I had a plan. Leave Thursday do the wedding for Roberta on Friday night, pick up the rest of our stuff from the house in Amery on Saturday and head home to preach on Sunday.

But my plan fell apart Thursday night when the SUV started boggin down on the highway. So Mike came up with an alternate plan pull off the road find a hotel and take the truck into a dealer Friday am to be fixed and still make the wedding and fulfill the task at hand. It sounded wise and prudent.

We found a hotel right next to a Chevy dealer – Praise the Lord!

I was standing in line at 7:30 am when they opened and they started to work on the truck soon after. I get a call about 11:00 am from the bride – high Pastor Mike. Did you have a nice trip? I inform her of our predicament. Silence “Will you be able to make it?” Oh, yes I say!” The dealer says the truck will be done and fixed by 12:30.” He does! We call the bride to say “We are on the way – all is good!” I pay the $260.00 bill with a smile and a big, “Thank you!” Kathy says, “God is so good!” We are on the highway and on our way to the wedding which has a rehearsal scheduled for 3:30pm – no problem God has provided – we will be on time! Life is good!

Then the but happens! The check engine light comes back on!

We are only 40 miles down the road. I think no way! We feel like we are hit with a ton of bricks. But we rebound with “Help us Lord!” So we pray up and down a few hills not sure if we will even get off the highway – the temperature outside is 4 below with double digit wind chills – we continue to pray up the hills until we find an exit. We see the exit and we role sputtering off the highway. Okay, I think, “I will drop the trailer in this closed café parking lot and drive into Eau Claire to another dealer to have the truck fixed.” Plan sounds wise and prudent.

I drop the trailer and head toward the city. We are 2 miles down the road the truck starts to lose power --- we now can only go 10 miles an hour. Kathy calls a friend and she gives us the phone number to the closest Chevy dealer. We talk to the service person they send out a tow truck about ½ hour later. We arrive at the dealer at 3:00 pm – we are still 2 hours from Amery – we call friends in the church to go talk to a worried bride – to tell them we are on the way. But I hear, “Where are you Pastor Mike?” “I will be there Roberta!” We get off the tow truck after having a nice conversation with a born again tow truck driver. We talk about church and the serious problem of division and dissension in too many churches today.

We go in the dealer and meet with the service manager tell what the problem is and then immediately go over and rent a car and head to Amery. We arrive at about 5pm and do a quick rehearsal and then head to the parsonage to shower and to change for the wedding. Wedding goes great and the bride and the groom are happy. Temperature is still horrible at 10 below zero with 30 below wind chills. But task one is done – I made the wedding and married off two wonderful Christians!

The next day we work it out with a friend to borrow their SUV to go get the trailer which is 2 ½ hours away. Kathy and I drive down and back in about 5 hours and show up at the parsonage in the afternoon – we load up all of our stuff in frigid weather which takes about 2 hours. Task two is completed!

We then drive 1 hour 15 minutes to my mom’s house spend the night and go to church with my mom on Sunday. The preacher that day spoke about placing our trust in God and not in politicians or human systems. He then pulls out a fishing pole and talks about how we need to become fishers of men for sake of the lost and for the sake of the Kingdom of God. We visit with my mom for the afternoon and catch up on what’s been happening in this part of the world. We drive back that evening to Amery to stay with some friends and meet with New Life people. The conversation slides toward some issues which have arisen in the church since my departure. We talk about their new pastor who is coming on the 25th from Long Island, New York. I encourage them that everything will work out once the new pastor arrives and we enjoy a nice evening catching up on life in Amery world.

Monday morning comes and it’s still freezing cold. I get a call from the dealer who informs me that it will cost $1,500 to fix my broken - frozen truck and another extra cost to overnight the part I need. I agree muttering under my breathe – “Thanks Lord!” I think Lord – “I am going to pay more for Roberta’s wedding than her dad did!” “Lord I have a house that needs remodeled and has to be done by Feb. 28th! I need a break here! I am missing work – your work!” Do you know what happened after my under the breath prayer – nothing – God was silent! I don’t recall who said it but someone said, “Pastor Mike God is giving you sermon material – so take notes!”

I call another friend after hearing the news and ask to borrow their truck to take the trailer to where the truck is. He agrees and it takes us 3 hours to get their as we drive in a snow storm with frigid weather all around. We get to the dealer and drop the trailer off. We decide to go back another way because the roads are horrible. We get on the highway 94 and it’s a sheet of ice, we then decide to get off the freeway to try the back roads. As we pull off the highway lights appear behind the vehicle. We get pulled over by a Wisconsin highway patrolman – I think, “What did we do?” We discover that Glenn’s running lights are out on the truck. The officer leads us to a gas station to fix them and helps us get back on the road. He gets an emergency call – “Multiple car crash on 94 – ambulances dispatched.” He takes off. We fix the issue and head towards home – once again praying as we drive in the blizzard. We arrive in Amery 3 ½ hours later. But we made it! Task 3 complete!

Tuesday roles around and the dealer tells me the truck will be done at 4:30 pm. So we go out for breakfast meet with New Life people and work on church stuff. We leave at 1:30 to head to get the truck and trailer. We arrive in Chippewa Falls around 4pm and soon after get a call telling us the truck will not be done. We think “OH Great! We are losing another day working on the house, working at the church and our 60 day deadline is fast approaching on the house. We are NOW totally frustrated. We get a hotel room and decide to sit in the Jacuzzi to relax – I pray a quick prayer “Lord help me relax and take this in stride.” We do relax – we actually just give the whole situation to God. We then enjoy the evening at the hotel and get up in the morning thinking that the truck will be done by 10am. We call they are having problems again. The simple job has turned into a nightmare for the mechanic. We do, however, eventually get the truck by 4:30 pm. We go to pay – I discover that I have to pay more than quoted – but they cut the labor rate in ½ “This is a praise the Lord but I miss it!” and yes, I have pay for the rental car too – this too they cut my rate in ½ and I miss it. I feel more frustrated and annoyed because it’s $1,800 dollars. I do what all good Americans do in this case “Charge it!” But the positive is we are on the road. We are heading home – “YES - finally!”

Then the - but -comes again!

120 miles down the road the check engine light comes on again! I am on the phone and I say, “Oh no!” I was talking to Mark Swartz on the phone when it happened. I hang us and say, “It’s happening again!” So we decide to call a few people and they say it’s okay just keep driving – we do so tense and agitated all the way – it’s freezing cold out - but we make it home. I think, “When will this nightmare end and the cash register stop chinging?”

The next day I take it in to Tony who has a great Christian mechanic look it over and fix what needs to be fixed. They cut me some breaks which is a blessing and I charge another $410.00.

But good news – the truck is running great!

Lessons learned:

Never quit praying. Pray touches the heart of God.

Make the most of the situation at hand – God is still there helping to use you through it. Look for prayer times – prayer moments for others!

Example: The service managers, the mechanics, the tow truck driver, the people of New Life, the bride and groom, the atheist father of the bride, the guests at the wedding, the police officer, the car wreck on 94 – praying for the victims.

Wow how we can miss all these prayer moments!

We need to learn to look for the answered prayers and those blessings in the moment of despair! The dealers rate cuts and reduced fees! Amazing it saved me over $500,00!

I learned to persevere through the situation – snow storms – frigid wind chills – and we came through safe and sound. I must admit certain times I did not want too to stay with it – there was one point when I wanted to buy another truck – but Kathy reminded me that would cost more money.

I had to adjust and change my attitude at certain times – I had to trust God that it would all work out – I had to quit blaming myself, others and trust God to get me through. I was reminded how I have to lean on Jesus at all times. I cannot always handle my own crisis – I need prayer and Jesus involvement! I had to relax and let God take over. I had to pray to calm my nerves and my fears.

I had to PUSH through to the goal – “Getting home to Illinois and being a good Christian witness for the Kingdom of God!”

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