6-Week Series: Against All Odds

Sermon Illustrations

There is something convenient about being a fence-straddler.

We think we can have the best of both worlds.

But in order to make a real commitment to Jesus Christ, we have to weigh our options.

Anyone who has ever struggled with their faith will come out stronger. One of my biggest personal battles occurred during my freshman year at Johnson Bible College. During an evening chapel service, the students were in earnest prayer. I sat there, eyes wide open, looking at the ceiling. “Are you really there, God, or are these words just bouncing off the ceiling?”

Two weeks later, I could not sleep. I dressed and trudged up the hill in the frosty air to “Old Main.” I ascended the steps to the third floor and approached the attic staircase to the building’s cupola. At the top I entered the musty prayer room. How many other JBC students had been in this place, turning to God in anguish or joy? How many hours had Ashley Johnson, founder of the college, spent here?

The room was dimly lit and sparsely furnished; it contained a student desk and chair original to the college, some old framed prints depicting the life of Christ, a couple of bibles, and some notebooks containing the written prayers of many students.

I sat there in silence. I read some of the prayers written by others. I could not help but feel their sense of worship, petition, or distress. I was moved by the tear stains on so many of the pages. My own eyes started becoming moist. A lump built up in my throat. Finally, I spoke out loud. “God, you are here. Forgive me for doubting. Use me.”

I cannot tell you how much longer I was in that prayer room, but by the time I descended the steps and walked back to the dorm, I sensed the presence of an old friend. I was not alone. Returning to my room, I quietly undressed and returned to bed.

From the opposite wall, my roommate spoke. “You’ve been with God tonight, haven’t you, Tom?” he asked. “How did you know?” I replied. “I sensed it as soon as you walked in. It shows on your face,” he answered.

I responded, “Yes Dan, I’ve been with God.” With that, I turned off the light. Since that time, I have failed God; I have not trusted God; I have made wrong decisions. But I have never doubted his love, His presence, or His mercy in my life.

Some people never get off the fence. Change is tough. Repentance hurts. Fence straddling is a habit that needs to be broken. It sets us free to serve the Lord who paid the penalty for our sins.

Quit straddling the fence!

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