“And without parables (great stories!) Jesus did not teach” (Mark 4:34).
I once sat through a long session of a convention of realtors just to hear a motivational speaker. The story with which he opened quickly became a mainstay in my arsenal of great illustrations and sermon-helpers.
Time well spent.
I’ve read entire books and come away with one paragraph that became a staple in my preaching thereafter. It was time well used and money well spent.
Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the best-selling “Eat, Pray, Love” (which I do not recommend, by the way), attended a party and heard a story which became one of the defining principles of her writing career. “Sometimes I think this man came into my life for the sole purpose of telling me this story, which has delighted and inspired me ever since.”
That’s how it works. One story, a lifetime of benefit.
Gilbert says the man told of his younger brother who was an aspiring artist. Living in Paris and struggling to get by, he seized every opportunity to get his name before people. One day, in a cafe’ he met a group of people who invited him to a party that weekend at a castle in the Loire Valley. This was big stuff and he eagerly accepted the opportunity to hobnob with people of wealth and influence.
This would be the party of the year, they said. The rich and famous would be in attendance, as well as members of European royalty. And, they said, it was to be a masquerade ball where everyone went all out on their costumes. “Dress up, they said, and join us!”
All that week, the little brother worked on a costume he was sure would knock them dead. His outfit would be the centerpiece of the ball, the one sure to generate the most interest and conversation. When the day came, he rented a car and drove three hours to the castle. He changed into his costume in the car and walked up to the castle, head held high, confidence and excitement exuding from the pores of his skin.
Entering the castle, he quickly realized his mistake.