This is a true story from my own life that I’ve used a couple of times for Sermon illustrations. Here it is presented as a longish “Message for All Ages”, but would also be suitable for a youth group session, or a Bible Study. The scripture reading is 1 Kings 19:1-15a, which is about Elijah’s fleeing Jezebel’s wrath and then being confronted by God while hiding in the cave on Mt. Horeb.
A helpful prop for this story would be a 6 foot tall aluminum stepladder, or perhaps a good sized photo of one.
I once had a home with a huge backyard. Since I didn’t want to spend all my time mowing the fenced back yard (and couldn’t afford a bigger mower), I bought some sheep to eat the grass. The male of the three was named Fuzzball by my daughter.
One Sunday, I decided to trim the some dead branches on trees near the house; but quickly realized that my ladder [just like this one] was far too short for the job. It was getting late, so I left the ladder leaning against a tree and went in for the night.
The next morning I opened my bedroom window a bit as I got ready for work, I liked hearing the sheep bleating to each other as they grazed on the grass.
Suddenly, a rather surprised bleat sounded through the window. No big deal – I figured one of them had gotten themselves in trouble again, which they always seemed to be doing. I figured I’d check into it when I fed them before leaving for work, and so kept tying my tie.
Then came a tremendous clatter. Running to the window, I looked out just in time to see Fuzzball running at top speed from the near corner of the yard, where the trees were, to the far corner, where his shed was.
He was running like a greyhound – I’ve never seen an animal run so fast. He was really scared, and it was obvious why: the stepladder was sticking out on each side of his body like wings. [Indicate the middlemost space between the steps of the ladder, this is where Fuzzball had gotten himself caught.] He looked like a low flying fuzzy aluminum-winged airplane bounding across the backyard. [Imitate a plane with your arms.]
With each leap, he would scrunch his body, causing the two halves of the ladder around his midsection to slam together with a loud crash. [Demonstrate with the stepladder] I’m sure this scared him even more, because each leap was greater than the last; and so made an even bigger crash each time. He could not get away from this horrible thing holding him, and which made terrifying noises each time he moved.
I think what happened is that his natural love of climbing had gotten the better of him. He’d tried to climb the ladder, but knocked it over on top of himself: the opening between the center two steps must have slipped over his head when it fell. The clattering I’d heard was him struggling to get to his feet.
Anyway, Fuzzball was running as fast as he could to the far corner of the backyard, to his place of ultimate safety, the closest thing we had to a cave to hide in: his shed.
An old corrugated steel shed.
An old corrugated steel shed with a four foot wide door.
Fuzzball had a six foot tall aluminum stepladder around his middle.
What I heard in the few seconds that it took for all this to happen was: Clatter Clatter Clatter … wham wham wham Wham Wham WHAM WHAM WHAM-WHAM-WHAM-BOOM!!!
Fuzzball disappeared. [Look around with hands up, as if mystified as to where Fuzzball had gone.]
The ladder fell to the ground in front of the door to the shed.
Echoes reverberated through the neighborhood.
I ran out to check on Fuzzball. He was OK: hiding in his shed. I’m sure he must have made one of the most spectacular somersaults ever performed by a sheep when he flew through that door.
Summary and questions…
Fuzzball is like us. When danger threatens or when we feel scared, we run. In what ways do we run? [Solicit answers. Two important ones are “Blaming Others” and “Denying your own responsibility” or perhaps just “Denial”.]
We all run. In this morning’s reading from 1 Kings we will hear of how the Prophet Elijah also ran when he was scared, and not only did he run, but he also tried to blame others and tried to deny that he was scared. God didn’t let him get away with it! And, the Bible tells us, God was with Elijah every step of the way when he ran away too.
God is always with us when we’re scared. And, God is OK with us making mistakes. We don’t need to deny that we made a mistake, nor do we need to blame someone else. God wants us to be freed of that fear. God always loves us just the same, just as God always loved Elijah. And, God already knows the truth about everything; so, making excuses to God does not work, as Elijah found out.
Copyright (c) 2016, Allen Vander Meulen III, all rights reserved. I’m happy to share my writings with you, as long as proper credit for my authorship is given. (e.g., via a credit that gives my full name and/or provides a link back to this site – or just email me and ask!)