In the sub-division where Susanne and I live, a pastor lives down the street from us, and we decided to go to her church on Sunday. The sanctuary had tables and chairs, and we sat at a table with a gentleman who was quite friendly. We chatted for a few moments before the service began. As I glanced at the bulletin, I noticed that since it was the 5th Sunday, today would be a singspiration. Immediately I was somewhat saddened that I would not get to hear our pastor neighbor preach. The lay leaders did a nice job interspersing Scripture, responsive readings and hymns, and choruses. There was a part of the service where they asked anyone who had a song they wanted to sing to call out the number from the hymnal or a chorus book that was prominently displayed on all the tables. The gentleman at our table called out the song “Pass It On.” At this moment, I recognized that this elderly gentleman and I were from the same era! He mentioned when he came home from serving in Vietnam, he went to a youth meeting and heard this song for the first time. He committed His life to Christ and made up his mind that he would spend his life passing on the love of God to all. Immediately, my mind returned to the youth camps, where we would gather around a campfire on a pre-determined night of the meeting. We would sing, offer testimonies, many prayed, and some confessed; it was always an emotional time. As I look back on those times, there is one song that was undoubtedly the theme song for teen campfire services: “Pass It On.” Kurt Kaiser wrote the song, and it was considered a contemporary song. All these years later, I mean fifty years later, I not only remember the words, but It also puts a smile on my face and brings back so many formative and happy memories from my youth. Here are the lyrics of the first stanza:
“It only takes a spark to get a fire going,
And soon, all those around can warm up in its glowing;
That’s how it is with God’s Love,
Once you’ve experienced it,
You spread the love to everyone
You want to pass it on.”
Throughout the years, I have witnessed the power of a spark, something small, a thing with a pretty modest beginning, eventually developing into something much larger. As my mind traveled across the past several years’ things came to mind:
My conversion It was real, and I had no idea that what happened that day would take me on this fifty-year-plus journey. There have been twists and turns, setbacks, and disappointments, but joy, growth, and things that I could never have imagined the day I decided to follow Jesus.
My wife I saw her while standing in the lunch line in college. We were to go as a group of about ten out for ice cream after the evening church service. After the service, everyone canceled except Susanne and me. What started as a trip to an ice cream parlor has now led to a forty-two-plus-year marriage. It does just take a spark!
A church board in Kalamazoo, I became pastor there in my early thirties. I had nothing saved in my retirement account. Somehow it passed me that $25.00 a week of my salary package would be contributed to my retirement account. When I discovered this fact, I asked the treasurer and the church board to give me the amount in cash. They said no. What started as a spark that did not in the early days seem to make a difference over the years grew, My retired self would love to thank each board member for sparking my retirement savings.
18 People That is how many people attended the first service I preached in Syracuse, Indiana, in March of 1984. It did not seem like many, just a small group in a small town. For a few years, it seemed like nothing much was happening. It was only a spark, but it would develop and expand. I look back on those days fondly.
Writing this blog Originally, I thought I would write four or five, I checked this morning, and when I push the publish button, this will be post #471.
What could happen if we all decided to be God’s spark where we live? A revival does not start with a big fire, just a few sparks here and there. Join me in deciding today that we want the warmth and joy of God to be seen and felt, and we want to pass it on. Do not despise small things, just allow God to use you as you go about your daily routines and keep sensitive to the work of the Holy Spirit. And let us pass it on!