Did you know that the words "illustration" and "illumination" both come from the same root? In fact, if you look up the word "illustration" in a dictionary, you may discover that one of the meanings of the word illustration is "illumination." An illustration helps to illuminate meaning, so when we are preparing lessons, sermons, and devotionals to teach the Word of God, good illustrations are an important part of our preparation.
We can explain and teach God's Word without illustrations, but a carefully developed and explained illustration helps to illuminate (bring to light) the passage, and make the lesson more memorable; not only does illustration help the listener understand the passage, but they are also much more likely to remember what they have learned.
Illustrations can be found all around us. I believe that God has designed our universe in such a way that the smallest things, like a drop of dew on the grass, to the largest and most complex, like the far away stars and galaxies, can help us bring the heart and the attributes of the creator into focus.
I believe the same is true about our life experiences. The best teachers are the ones who can look at their own lives and see personal illustrations that help drive home a scriptural point.
As I live my life from day to day, I remember what another teacher once told me: To walk humbly with our God means that we see all of life in the context of our relationship with Him. With this in mind, wherever I go, whatever I do, I try to maintain a constant and conscious awareness of the presence of God with me. One of the unexpected benefits of this awareness is that I begin to see all around me illustrations that will help me to illuminate a passage of Scripture.
It is my sincere hope that the illustrations posted on these pages will help other teachers to explain and clarify their teaching. But even more importantly, I hope that these pages will inspire other teachers to seek out their own illustrations from their own life experiences. After all, your life experiences have been custom designed for you by God Himself!
Finally, I would like to add that in many cases, the best illustrations come from our Lord Jesus Christ. I'm not talking just about his parables, but his very life. So many times I've been teaching a passage of scripture, and I say, "This reminds me of that time in the gospels when Jesus said/did..."
After all, since Jesus is the word made flesh, then our study of the Word should always drive us back to him.