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uring a Monday night football game between the Chicago Bears and the New York Giants, one of the an­nouncers observed that Walter Payton, the Bears' running back, had accumu­lated over nine miles in ca­reer rushing yardage. The other announcer remarked, "Yeah, and that's with somebody knocking him down every 4.6 yards!"

Walter Payton, the most

successful running back

ever, knows that everyone

— even the very best —

gets knocked down. The

key to success is to get up

and run again just as hard.

— Jeff Quandt

Sacramento, California



n 1981, a Minnesota radio station reported a story about a stolen car in California.  Police were staging an intense search for the vehicle and the driver,  even  to  the point of placing announce­ments on local radio sta­tions to contact the thief.

On the front seat of the stolen car sat a box of crack­ers that, unknown to the thief, were laced with poi­son. The car owner had in­tended to use the crackers as rat bait. Now the police and the owner of the VW Bug were more interested in apprehending the thief to save his life than to re­cover the car.

So often when we run from God, we feel it is to escape his punishment. But what we are actually doing is eluding his rescue.

— Pat McBride Windom, Minnesota

| I |

n the fall of the year, Linda, a young woman, was traveling alone up the rutted and rugged high­way from Alberta to the Yukon. Linda didn't know you don't travel to Whitehorse alone in a run­down Honda Civic, so she set off where only four-wheel drives normally venture. The first evening she found a room in the mountains near a summit and asked for a 5 a.m. wakeup call so she could get an early start. She couldn't understand why the clerk looked surprised at that request, but as she awoke to early-morning fog shrouding the mountain tops, she understood.

Not wanting to look foolish, she got up and went to breakfast. Two truckers invited Linda to join them, and since the place was so small, she felt obliged. "Where are you headed?" one of the truckers asked.


"In that little Civic? No way! This pass is dangerous in weather like this."

"Well, I'm determined to try," was Linda's gutsy, if not very informed, response.

"Then I guess we're just going to have to hug you," the trucker suggested.

Linda drew back. "There's no way I'm going to let you touch me!"

"Not like that!" the truckers chuckled. "We'll put one truck in front of you and one in the rear. In that way, we'll get you through the mountains." All that foggy morning Linda followed the two red dots in front of her and had the reassurance of a big escort behind as they made their way safely through the mountains.

Caught in the fog in our dangerous passage through life, we need to be "hugged." With fellow Christians who know the way and can lead safely ahead of us, and with others behind, gently encouraging us along, we, too, can pass safely.

— Don Graham Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan



ccording to Paul Lee Tan's Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations, "The Romans sometimes com­pelled a captive to be joined face-to-face with a dead body, and to bear it about until the horrible effluvia destroyed the life of the living victim. Virgil describes this cruel punishment: 'The living and the dead at his command / Were coupled face to face, and hand to hand; / Till choked with stench, in loathed embraces tied, / The lingering wretches pined away and died.' "

Without Christ, we are shackled to a dead corpse — our sinfulness. Only repentance frees us from certain death, for life and death cannot coexist indefinitely.

— Bryan Swash Downsview, Ontario

| E |

nglish raconteur T. H. White recalls in The Book of Merlyn a boyhood experience: "My father made me a wooden castle big enough to get into, and he fixed real pis­tol barrels beneath its bat­tlements to fire a salute on my birthday, but made me sit in front the first night ... to receive the salute, and I, believing I was to be shot, cried."

How many times have we, too, misinterpreted the ambiguity of life and thought ourselves to be "shot" when delight was intended?

One translation of Psalm 94:19 reads, "In the middle of all my troubles, you roll me over with rollicking de­light." The psalmist is right; God's festive gaiety is somehow to be discerned in the midst of our own troubled fears. God often plays rough before break­ing into laughter, and only a bold and rowdy playful­ness can draw the whole of what we are to such a God. Yet, we're not always able to grasp that truth. Ever expecting to be shot, we are so often dumbfounded by a grace we can't con­ceive.

— adapted from

Belden C.Lane

in The Christian Century







hen  Lloyd  C. Douglas, author of The Robe and other novels, was a univer­sity student, he lived in a boarding house. Downstairs on the first floor was an elderly, retired music teach­er, now infirm and unable to leave the apartment.

Douglas said that every morning they had a ritual they would go through to­gether. He would come down the steps, open the old man's door, and ask, "Well, what's the good news?" The old man would pick up his tuning fork, tap it on the side of his wheel­chair, and say, "That's middle C! It was middle C yesterday; it will be middle C tomorrow; it will be mid­dle C a thousand years from now. The tenor upstairs sings flat, the piano across the hall is out of tune, but, my friend, that is middle C!"

The old man had discov­ered one thing upon which he could depend, one con­stant reality in his life, one "still point in a turning world." For Christians, the one "still point in a turning world," the one absolute of which there is no shad­ow of turning, is Jesus Christ.

— Maxie Dunnam in Jesus' Claims Our Promises



n the Antarctic summer of 1908-9, Sir Ernest Shackleton and three companions attempted to travel to the South Pole from their winter quar­ters. They set off with four ponies to help carry the load. Weeks later, their ponies dead, rations all but exhausted, they turned back toward their base, their goal not accomplished. Altogether, they trekked 127 days.

On the return journey, as Shackleton records in The Heart of the Antarctic, the time was spent talking about food — elaborate feasts, gourmet delights, sumptu­ous menus. As they staggered along, suffering from dysentery, not knowing whether they would survive, every waking hour was occupied with thoughts of eating.

Jesus, who also knew the ravages of food depriva­tion, said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness." We can understand Shackleton's obsession with food, which offers a glimpse of the passion Jesus intends for our quest for righteousness.

— Ken Rogers Forest Hill, Australia



he 3-year-old felt secure in his father's arms as Dad stood in the middle of the pool. But Dad, for fun, began walking slowly toward the deep end, gently chanting, "Deeper and deeper and deep­er," as the water rose higher and higher on the child. The lad's face registered increasing degrees of panic, and he held all the more tightly to his father, who, of course, easily touched the bottom.

Had the little boy been able to analyze his situation, he'd have realized there was no reason for increased anxiety. The water's depth in any part of the pool was over his head. Even in the shallowest part, had he not been held up, he'd have drowned. His safety any­where in that pool depended on Dad.

At various points in our lives, all of us feel we're getting "out of our depth" — problems abound, a job is lost, someone dies. Our temptation is to panic, for we feel we've lost control. Yet, as with the child in the pool, the truth is we've never been in control over the most valuable things of life. We've always been held up by the grace of God, our Father, and that does not change. God is never out of his depth, and therefore we're as safe when we're "going deeper" as we have ever been.

— J. Alistair Brown Aberdeen, Scotland


Jim Taylor in Currents tells the following story about his friend, Ralph Milton: One morning Ralph woke up at five o'clock to a noise that sounded like someone repairing boilers on his roof. Still in his paja­mas, he went into the back yard to investigate. He found a woodpecker on the TV antenna, "pounding its little brains out on the met­al pole."

Angry at the little crea­ture who ruined his sleep, Ralph picked up a rock and threw it. The rock sailed over the house, and he heard a distant crash as it hit the car. In utter disgust, Ralph took a vicious kick at a clod of dirt, only to re­member — too late — that he was still in his bare feet.

Uncontrolled anger, as Ralph learned, can some­times be its own reward. — Brian Weatherdon

New Glasgow, Nova Scotia

What are the most effective illustrations you've come across? We want to share them with other pastors and teach­ers who need material that communicates with imagina­tion and impact. For items used, leadership will pay $25. If the material has been published previously, please in­clude the source.

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