let it go

I was watching the evening news last night, because I love to go against the grain, and I saw this perfect, and a bit funny, sermon illustration that should immediately replace that tired one about the monkeys who won’t unclench their fists so they can take their hands out of the jar. That’s a good one, but it’s been stellar since  I was a child, and it’s hard to believe that in forty years no one, not even Jack Hanna, has trained a monkey to let go of the candy and pull out its hand.

Anyway, Richard Engle was reporting with a group of rebels in the Libya desert, and he remarks that one of the rebels has nothing but a toy gun. Apparently he thinks he can bluff his way past Qaddafi’s tanks, as if going to war was like robbing a bank. Shortly after shells explode about 50 yards away, and as everyone takes cover, the man drops his plastic gun in the sand. A few minutes later, when the shelling has stopped, the man creeps out into the open to fetch his toy gun, only to scamper back when the shelling starts again.

The clip is scary but also a bit funny, and it made me think:

1. The army that we are supporting in Libya has toy guns? This is not encouraging.

2. Of all the dumb ways to die, this would be a hard one to explain to the man’s wife: he died retrieving a toy weapon.

3. I hope the man isn’t feeling more vulnerable today because he lost the only weapon he had.

4. Sometimes you just have to let it go, you know, like a monkey.

5. This goes without saying, but if you are going to use this in a sermon, it’s better to insert it where it fits into an already prepared exegetical sermon than to build an entirely new sermon around it. The latter may work for a devotional–watch me!–but probably not a 30 minute sermon.






7 responses to “let it go”

  1. I have upgraded from the monkey and tend to use the scene from Where the Red Fern Grows in which they trap the first raccoon by drilling a whole in a tree trunk, driving two nails down at an angle, and putting a shiny piece of tin in the hole. The raccoon saw the tin, made a grab, and couldn’t get his little fist out. Then the dad beat the poor thing to death in front of the whole family, causing the little girls to burst into tears. This is perfect when you consider that the Greek for “love of money” woodenly means, “Love of shiney metal.”

  2. mikewittmer

    Thanks, Zach, for completely blowing away my illustration. Guess I should be like everyone else, skip the news and just watch movies.

    Thanks also for reminding me of my #1 rule for life: never kill an animal in front of the children.

  3. Seth Horton

    Wow, I wish somebody had taught my dad your number 1 rule…

  4. Jack Horton


    Since Seth beat me to the punch on this issue, I should mention that he and all of his siblings have been blessed with the oppportunity to “harvest” their own food from the back forty since they were young enough to carry a shooting iron. I think your number one rule is fine if you are a vegetarian, which is just an old indigenous word for bad hunter. Zach’s illustration is a great one.

  5. Hey, I remember seeing that news clip. I think that guy forgot the #1 rule for warfare: when you’re trying to fake out your enemy with a toy gun, don’ t show it on the news.

  6. Hey Mike your past self unknowingly made a reference to the movie Frozen! lol.

    -Rebekah Wittmer

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