Sermon Illustrations

Christian Walk Compared to Learning How to Pitch Horseshoes

When I married into Charlotte’s family I married into a really close family that liked to spend a lot of time together. Almost every Sunday was spent at Charlotte’s Mom and Dad’s house. There were football or baseball games to watch or play. There was supper to be eaten. Those were great times.

It didn’t take long to find out that there were some things that the men in the family liked to do and these were things that I was not very good at; they liked to play pinochle and they liked to pitch horseshoes. Pinochle I picked up pretty easily. The problem with pinochle or any kind of cards is that you have to get good cards to play with. If you don’t have the cards you can’t win. You can’t practice pinochle and get good at it. Well you can to some degree but not really.

Horseshoes, however, are different. I was so bad at horseshoes that nobody ever wanted me on their team. So here is what I decided to do. I set up some pegs out in the yard and every day when I came home from work, before I would go in the house, I would set my lunch box and thermos down at the back door, walk down to the horseshoe pits and throw fifty shoes. Now there was a method to my madness. In throwing those practice shoes I began by learning how to make the shoe do one complete turn. (I throw a flip-flop shoe – end over end). That was the hardest thing. Once I got that down I began working on my distance. Then the right height. And finally, I work on direction. All of those things are important on an individual basis, but they cannot stand alone. Hitting the peg without having the shoe open won’t produce good results. I may make a lot of noise but no result. Having the right distance without being able to hit the peg won’t do any good. Throwing an open shoe without the distance may look good – but the results are empty. Everything has to be working together for any of it to be good. So I practiced and practiced and finally I believe I got to be the best horseshoe pitcher in the family, all because I was willing to do whatever it took to be the best.

Your Christian walk is very much like pitching horseshoes. If you are going to be good at it you must be willing to do whatever it takes to get there. In his letter to the church in Philippi, the great apostle, Paul, wrote, 7But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 10I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Here we see what Paul was willing to go through to be the best he could be.

From a sermon by Mike Rickman, Onward and Upward, 11/14/2009

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