“What a great story to illustrate my point,” I thought as I prepared for a sermon. Then the meddlesome voice of Charles Spurgeon came to mind, “As far as you can, make sure your illustrations are true stories.”
Seriously? Couldn’t I have let that slip my mind until next Monday?!?
I went to lunch and while stuffing my face tried to stuff that thought deep into the corners of my mind. Didn’t work. Sitting back in front of my notes the thought popped out like a button on my shirt after I had indulged in an all-you-can-eat buffet.
“Fine, I’ll check it out.”
I typed “Armenia earthquake 1989” into the search bar and hit “Enter.” Tons of hits. All different versions of the story I wanted to use. No sources. “Thanks a lot, Charles Spurgeon!”
Not wanting to give up quite yet, I clicked on a couple links. Then I found it: sourced, cited, and hopefully legit. Speaking of the Armenian earthquake in December 1988 which registered 6.8 and caused untold destruction killing tens of thousands, Pierre Verluise in his book Armenia in Crisis: The 1988 Earthquake wrote,
One week after the earthquake, an Armenian, like many others, continued to dig with only his hands and a pick axe for tools. His fingertips were badly torn up and bloodied. A doctor told him, “If you continue to dig, we will have to amputate.” He answered, “What do my hands matter, everything I cherish is under there—my son, my daughter, my wife, my mother.”
Not the story I was looking for, but a powerful picture nonetheless. The loss must have been unimaginable. Yet look at the courage, commitment, and clarity of priority! Makes me wonder if what we cherish and pursue can bear the weight of our lives.
May it not take a tragedy to show us that we’re missing what’s really important; where life is really found. Instead, let us take every opportunity now to pursue what is bigger than us, better than us, and will live beyond us.
“Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.”