Sermon Illustrations: Hope
Florence Chadwick, noted for swimming the English Channel in both directions, decided to swim the 21 mile stretch of icy water between Catalina Island and the coast of California. It had never been done by a woman, and at age 34, she was determined to be the first. The chosen date was 4th July, 1952, a holiday, and much of the country was watching on television. At several points during the swim, rifles had to be blasted over the waves to fend off the sharks. After nearly 16 hours in the water, she complained of numbness. She squinted to see the shore, but the fog reduced her visibility to almost zero. She called out to her mother and her trainer in the rescue boat that she couldn't go on. They encouraged her to continue, but when she looked to where she thought the shore should be, she could see nothing. She gave up and was pulled out from the water. Imagine how she felt when she discovered that she was only half a mile from shore. She knew she physically could have done it. Later, she told reporters that she wasn't making excuses for her failure, but "if only I could have seen land, I know I could have made it." She was right. Just a few weeks later she attempted the same swim, under the same foggy conditions, and finished the swim in record time. Not only did she become the first woman to complete the icy stretch, but she beat the men's record by two hours.
Shortly before his death, Gandhi wrote, "All about me is darkness; I am praying for light." Contrast this with evangelist D. L. Moody's last recorded words: "This is my triumph; this is my coronation day! It is glorious!"
A man had a mangy dog and kept taking him to dog shows. One day, his friend found out and said, "You take him to dog shows?" "All the time," replied the man. "Well, does he ever win anything?" asked his friend. "Nope, but he gets to hang out with some mighty fine dogs."