In the days before the internet, other than my own experience, about all I had to draw upon as a speaker and writer for illustration purposes was either newspapers, magazines, and/or a few books devoted to the topic. For this reason, as a young preacher, I was particularly thankful for the works of men like Walter B. Knight.
After pastoring for decades in the Chicago area, he felt led back in the 1950's to assemble a collection of sermon illustrations, then indexed them, and finally published them in book form. He later updated this volume several times, before finally producing his last version, which attained a length of over 750 pages, containing thousands and thousands of subject-indexed illustrations.
Such a collection was a veritable gold mine for young pastors such as I was when just beginning my ministry. And I still occasionally draw upon Knight’s material even today. For instance, I was recently addressing the subject of ascertaining God’s will for one’s life, and then being willing to embrace it once we do, when I found myself somewhat stumped as to how to effectively illustrate my point.
I soon came upon this wonderful story in Knight’s material that helped me to illustrate how we so often refuse to embrace what we know to be God’s will, preferring instead to pursue the way we desire to go.
An old Scottish woman went from home to home across the countryside selling thread, buttons, and shoestrings. When she came to an unmarked crossroad, she would toss a stick into the air and go in the direction the stick pointed when it landed.
One day, however, she was seen tossing the stick up several times. "Why do you toss the stick more than once?" someone asked. "Because," replied the woman, "it keeps pointing to the left, and I want to take the road on the right." She then dutifully kept throwing the stick into the air until it pointed the way she wanted to go!
If you are a communicator in need of assistance in finding stories that help you better convey your message, then I highly recommend any or all of these basic works by Walter B. Knight, easily obtainable on used bookstore websites all across the country.
Knight’s Treasury of Illustrations.
Knight’s Treasury of 2000 Illustrations.
Three Thousand Illustrations for Christian Service.
Knight’s Up to the Minute Illustrations.
Knight’s Master Book of 4000 Illustrations.
Knight’s Master book of New Illustrations.