In 1914, Ernest Shackleton and a team of explorers set out from England to do something that no one before had accomplished—cross Antarctica from one side to the other across the South Pole. Disaster struck when the team’s ship, Endurance, became entrapped in ice and eventually sank after her hull was crushed. Marooned on nearby Elephant Island, there seemed little hope for their survival.
There were 128 runners in the field for the cross country race at the 1993 NCAA Division II Track and Field Championships. As they set out on the 6.2 mile run, they were following a course that had been marked for them by the race officials. Toward the end of the course, one of the runners in the middle of the group realized something was wrong. Mike Delcavo of Western State College in Colorado saw that the main pack had missed the turn. “I was waving for them to follow me and yelling ‘This is the right way,’” he told an interviewer after the race.
In August of 2012, vacationers at the beach in Terracina, Italy were shocked when a car pulled up next to a man who had just left the water and shot him at least seven times. The man was Gaetano Marino, leader of the Camorra crime family. He was known as “Stumpy” because his hands had been blown off nearly twenty years previous when a bomb he was attempting to set for someone else went off prematurely. Police said they believed the killing was part of a struggle for control of the cocaine business between rival mob factions.
A missionary couple once brought some African pastors to the Unites States for a big meeting. During their free time, these pastors wanted to go shopping. Even though they were in a small town, the missionary knew there was a chance one of them might have some difficulty finding their way around or get lost. So the missionary gave each pastor his phone number in case of an emergency. In less than an hour the missionary’s phone rang and one of the pastors said, “I am lost.”
Sandra Bullock won the 2010 Best Actress Academy Award for her portrayal of Leigh Ann Tuohy in The Blind Side. The sensational film chronicles a Christian family who took in a homeless young man and gave him the chance to reach his God-given potential. Michael Oher not only dodged the hopelessness of his dysfunctional inner city upbringing, but became the first-round NFL draft pick for the Baltimore Ravens in 2009. At a recent fund-raiser, Sean Tuohy noted that the transformation of his family and Michael all started with two words.
In the world of technology there is a new development called Hyper Sonic Sound (HSS). The inventor, Elwood “Woody” Norris, has engineered sound waves to travel like a laser beam for about 150 yards. This allows sounds to be heard by a person in a particular place but not by those immediately around them. You could be listening to music or specific instructions while those standing next to you would be left in total silence. If you move out of the tightly formed path of these unique sound waves you too will be unaware of any noise.
The story is told about the father of a vacationing family who came across a large sign that read, “Road Closed. Do Not Enter.” The man proceeded around the sign because he was confident it would save them time. His wife was resistant to the adventure, but there was no turning back for this persistent road warrior. After a few miles of successful navigation, he began to boast about his gift of discernment. His proud smile was quickly replaced with humble sweat when the road led to a washed-out bridge. He turned the car around and retraced his tracks to the main road.
In the 1929 Rose Bowl, the California Golden Bears squared off against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and provided one of the most famous plays in college football history. In the second quarter, California player Roy Riegels recovered a fumble, but instead of advancing it, he got confused and began running toward his own end zone. A teammate finally stopped him at the goal line, but the two points Georgia Tech scored following “Wrong Way” Riegels’ mistake proved the winning margin in the game.
Albert Einstein was traveling from Princeton on a train. When the conductor came down the aisle punching tickets Einstein reached in his vest pocket; he could not find his ticket, so he reached in his trouser pockets. It wasn’t there so he looked in his briefcase, but still could not find it. He looked in the seat next to him, but it was not there.
A preacher was in Atlanta, several years ago, and noticed in the restaurants section of the Yellow Pages, an entry for a place called Church of God Grill. The peculiar name aroused his curiosity and he dialed the number. A man answered with a cheery, “Hello! Church of God Grill!”
Pablo Casals was considered the greatest cellist to ever live. When he was 95 years old he was asked why he continued to practice 6 hours a day. He answered, “Because I think I’m making progress.”
Source: Your Road Map for Success, John Maxwell
I took a piece of plastic clay,
And idly fashioned it one day,
And as my fingers pursued it still,
It moved and yielded at my will.
It came of age when days were past,
And the piece of clay was hard at last...
The form I gave it, it still bore,
But I could change it no more.
I took a piece of living clay,
And gently formed it day by day,
And molded it with power and art
A young child’s soft and yielding heart.
A choir was practicing for a concert when the director, “Eight years ago I was directing another choir in this anthem, and they made the same mistakes you’re making.” A choir member called out, “Same director!”
Source: The Story File: 1001 Contemporary Illustrations, Steve May
Jim Elliot was one of the martyred missionaries in 1956. He was a passionate Christian who journaled many of his thoughts and prayers. One such entry addressed his concern about impact. He wrote, “Father, make of me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road; make me a fork, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.” His impact continues on even though he died over fifty years ago at the age of twenty-nine.
Source: Shadow of the Almighty, Elisabeth Elliot
Tom Brady, quarterback who led the New England Patriots to victory in three Super Bowls, told 60 Minutes, “Why do I have three Super Bowl rings and still think there’s something greater out there for me? I mean, maybe a lot of people would say, ‘Hey man, this is what is.’ I reached my goal, my dream, my life. Me, I think, it’s got to be more than this. I mean this isn’t, this can’t be what it’s all cracked up to be.”
“What’s the answer,” asked interviewer Steve Kroft.
“I wish I knew,” Brady replied. “I wish I knew.”
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
On a hot summer day in south Florida a little boy decided to go for a swim in the old swimming hole behind his house.
In a hurry to dive into the cool water, he ran out the back door, leaving behind shoes, socks, and shirt as he went. He flew into the water, not realizing that as he swam toward the middle of the lake, an alligator was swimming toward the shore.
“Men who live in the past remind me of a toy I’m sure all of you have seen. The toy is a small wooden bird called the Floogie Bird. Around the Floogie Bird’s neck is a label reading, ‘I fly backwards, I don’t care where I’m going. I just want to see where I’ve been.’”—Harry Truman
Source: The Words of Harry S. Truman, Harry Truman and Robert Donovan
Submitted by the homiletics class of West Coast Baptist College
In November, 1975, seventy-five convicts started digging a secret tunnel designed to bring them up at the other side of the wall of Saltillo Prison in northern Mexico. On April 18, 1976, they tunneled up into the nearby courtroom in which many of them had been sentenced. The surprised judges returned all 75 to jail.
Source: Campus Life, September, 1980
Submitted by the homiletics class of West Coast Baptist College
I am not what I might be, I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I wish to be, I am not what I hope to be. But I thank God I am not what I once was, and I can say with the great apostle, “By the grace of God I am what I am.”—John Newton