Sermon Illustrations


John Ortberg tells the story of going to a dude ranch in Arizona at the instance of his wife who felt the vacation was not complete without "the exhilaration of a truly challenging horseback ride." (His exact words.)

The first time he went out at the ranch, he did so with no trouble and thought that he had tamed the art of riding a horse. However, the next day he and five of the trail hands took a herd of horses on a three-mile trip out to pasture.

As he went to the stable to get his horse, he thought about the name of his horse. Would it be 'Stout' or 'King' or 'Knight?' No, oh no. The name of his horse was 'Reverse.' It was called 'Reverse' because he had the habit of going in reverse when you pulled on his reins.

The trip out to the pasture was uneventful. The trip back to ranch and stable was not. One of the hands decided to start a race back to the stable.

Here, in Ortberg's own words is the rest of the story: "His [one of the five ranch hands] horse took off at full gallop and the other four immediately started racing to catch up with him. Reverse started to make his move. Instinctively, I pulled on the reins as hard as I could. Reverse rose up on his hind legs and took a few steps backward--just as Silver used to do under the Lone Ranger--and then took off like a bat out of... a cannon.

For the better part of a mile, Reverse ran a dead heat (the word dead sticks in my mind). We were not sauntering or trotting--this was an all out sprinting as in a scene from a movie... Reverse and I passed four of them. I say "Reverse and I, " but the truth is, he was doing most of the work. I was waiting to die... Exodus 15:1 came to mind, "I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; horse and rider he has thrown into the sea."

(Source: John Ortberg, If You Want to Walk On Water, You Have Got To Get Out of the Boat. © 2001, Zondervan)

Ortberg goes on to say that he begins to realize that he is probably going to survive this high-speed romp through the Arizona desert and he then begins to enjoy the ride and safely finishes the race back to the ranch.

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