Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4
Reader's Digest. Do you read Reader's Digest?
When I was in the parish, it was on my "do not miss" list. That's because I always found it to be a rich source of sermon illustrations. When I read the articles, I always started with the real-life stories. You know the ones I mean. One month there was the story of a person who had been attacked by a grizzly. Other months told the story of someone who was pinned in an auto wreck, or caught under the collapse of a skyscraper, or was riding in an airplane, when the engines failed, or who had been cornered by some killer, or ....
The story was always of calamity, catastrophe, tragedy and adversity.
What most interested me about those stories was not how the person managed to survive. Since they were writing the article, I figured survival was a given. No, what intrigued me, was -- what I like to call -- the "moment of revelation."
You see, every one of those folks, somewhere in the course of their story, had a crystal clear moment when they realized they were in trouble and might not survive. There was always a paragraph which read, "The grizzly was shaking me by the scruff of my neck, blood was running into my face, and I realized I might never see my family again. I realized I might die." Or "The beam of the skyscraper was pressing down upon my chest, blood was running into my face, and I realized I might never see my family again. I realized I might die." Or "my legs were pinned in the car by the steering wheel, blood was running into my face, and I realized I might never see my family again. I realized I might die." You get the picture.
After the moment of revelation, almost every writer recorded what he did next.
They said, "I had never been a serious believer in God before, but at that moment I prayed."
It was amazing to me that every one of these people realized they needed a hand to hold on to, a power to believe in, a God they could speak to and ask for deliverance.
They had discovered when your life is suspended by a thread, you want a sure and trustworthy hand holding the other end of the string. For decades you may have laughed at your neighbors as they went off to church on Sunday morning. For your entire life you may have boasted "There is no God" (see Psalm 14:1).
You may have thought tough, talked tough, lived tough, but most people I know aren't tough enough to look death in the face and laugh, especially when they see death is laughing back.
It is especially at such times we need a Savior. Thankfully, that Savior is present, ready and able to help us. So we might be rescued He has offered His life, and by His sacrifice we can be helped.
And that, my friends, is part of what we call the Good News.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, there are many times when I am unable to face and conquer what is ahead of me. Grant that I may always rely on Your grace, Your Son, and Your desire to save poor, miser able sinners. This I ask in Jesus' Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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