Screaming Boy Story

I mentioned yesterday about talking with college students about stories to use as illustrations for sermons. I shared with them another of my favorite personal stories from a few years ago.
I swear to you that the story I am about to tell you is true.
One day I stopped by Toys R Us to purchase some Tinker Toys for our Church nursery. I went back and found the item and made my way to the front of the store to check out. On my way through the store you could hear the sound of a young boy screaming. Having four young boys of my own, I recognized the noise and was able to ignore it.
There was a lady working check out and another lady paying for her purchase. Then there was a lady, presumably his mother, with the screaming boy. I stepped in line behind all of them. There were people behind me, but I didn’t look at them very well so I cannot give you a description.
The little boy looked to be about four years of age. He had a pacifier in this mouth (don’t get me started on that) and was screaming as loud as he could behind it. He had a flood of tears running down his cheeks as he cried. He was sitting in a shopping cart in the child’s seat. His mother was pulling the cart from the front. So I stood a few feet from this spectacle.
The lady in front of the mother shot an occasional glance in the direction of both the boy and the mother. The couple behind me was whispering to each other about the situation. I tried to ignore everything all together. If I stay uninvolved, no one will ask anything from me; that’s my motto. It was noticeable that everyone was uncomfortable but the mother. She stood there as if nothing was going on. She did have a worn look on her face from hours of dealing with this young boy. Amazingly though she remained calm, cool and collected. The lady working the cash register began to try and talk to the boy as the mother put items up on the belt to be paid for.
Finally, the saleslady said something to the mother. The mother seeing the lady was talking to her, reached up under her hair and pulled off headphones! The whole time her son had been screaming she had been listening to music!! I swear this is true. She acknowledged the boys screaming and said, “He has been throwing a lot of fits lately.” She paid for her items and calmly walked out of the store with him still screaming and crying the whole way.

Favorite Story

This morning I talked to a few students from Alaska Bible Seminary about stories and illustrations for preaching. I shared several tidbits of advice and ideas from my life and ministry. After the class I was thinking of my favorite stories. Today I want to share one of them. I also used this story for One Lord Sunday in Homer in 2011. It is from preacher Fred Craddock. Fred Craddock is one of my favorite preachers in the world. He shares this story from his life in a sermon and it can also be found in the book “Craddock Stories.”
I hope you enjoy:
My mother took us to church and Sunday school; my father didn’t go. He complained about Sunday dinner being late when she came home. Sometimes the preacher would call, and my father would say, “I know what the church wants. Church doesn’t care about me. Church wants another name, another pledge, another name, another pledge, right? Isn’t that the name of it? Another name, another pledge.” That’s what he always said. Sometimes we’d have a revival. Pastor would bring the evangelist and say to the evangelist, “There’s one now, sic him, get him, get him,” and my father would say the same thing. Every time, my mother in the kitchen, always nervous, in fear of flaring tempers, of somebody being hurt. And always my father said, “The church doesn’t care about me. The church wants another name and another pledge.” I guess I heard it a thousand times. One time he didn’t say it. He was in the veteran’s hospital, and he was down to seventy-three pounds. They’d taken out his throat, and said, “It’s too late.” They put in a metal tube, and X-rays burned him to pieces. I flew in to see him. He couldn’t speak, couldn’t eat. I looked around the room, potted plants and cut flowers on all the windowsills, a stack of cards twenty inches deep beside his bed. And even that tray where they put food, if you can eat, on that was a flower. And all the flowers beside the bed, every card, every blossom, were from persons or groups from the church. He saw me read a card. He could not speak, so he took a Kleenex box and wrote on the side of it a line from Shakespeare. If he had not written this line, I would not tell you this story. He wrote: “in this harsh world, draw your breath in pain to tell my story.” I said, “What is your story, Daddy?” And he wrote, “I was wrong.”