Frantically, I searched the open streets of Phnom Penh for a place to hide from the artillery shells whizzing overhead. The only place that presented itself was a shallow street gutter, that would offer little protection from flying shrapnel. With the ordnance crashing very near, I lifted my silent shout, “God, if you have something for me to do, save me from this present danger.”
When Pol Pot’s shelling finally subsided, I surveyed the damage done to homes and bodies and lives around me. I stood in amazement. Why wasn’t I lying among those mangled bodies? God saved my life that day. Why me? What could this mean for my future? Unaware in that moment, a spark deep within my being screamed to be fanned into a stronger flame.
You Have the Spark, Too
At Creation, God placed a spark in every person. He intends for this spark to become a flame to light the way in a man’s life. The spark is the image of God Himself. Just imagine, God freely placed this in every human being. Some have permitted God to ignite it, filling their lives with meaning and purpose, and even changing the world.
A Reformer Develops
Over 500 years ago, Martin Luther allowed God to kindle the flame in his life. Luther’s actions changed the world and they impact your life today. Martin’s father, Hans, wanted his son to become a lawyer. Martin possessed intelligence and high moral standards. Hans was only interested in the legal influence of a smart lawyer-son working for him.
As he prepared to follow his father’s dream, Martin sensed there was more he needed to do with his life. Being an obedient son, he entered university to study law. Misery filled Martin as he attempted to study and comply with his father’s wishes. He inherently knew his purpose in life was not the practice of law.
One day, after a visit at home Martin and his friend returned to the university. Before arriving at their destination, a powerful thunderstorm descended upon them. Lightning and thunder crashed around them. When a lightning bolt struck near where Martin stood, he cried out for deliverance as I did years later. HIs friend died during the storm on that dark, sodden road.
In those moments, God used a thunderstorm to remind Luther of the spark within.
Often this change in heart is called a battlefield conversion. It is often at the times we fear for our lives that we are reminded of the dormant image of God within. It is waiting for us to give it permission to grow. Luther knew the sense of morality was within him, but he had allowed someone else’s dreams to suppress it.
Remember Martin Luther was a moral man–honest with himself and others. He determined to be faithful to his promise. From the muddy puddle where his deceased friend lay, he walked to the university monastery and banged on the door until they let him in to begin his new life.
Amidst the detritus of war, when the shelling ended, I knew God waited for my response to the promise I made. In those moments of great testing, the spark within me screamed out from its deep emplacement. God heard and responded. His message was clear. He had work for me to do. The question was, would I keep my own freely-made commitment?
Chances are you have experienced your own screaming spark. It may not have been on an actual battlefield. That isn’t the point. Are there experiences that have driven you to wonder about the reasons for your existence – your purpose for being? That doesn’t happen unless you also have a sense that something more is expected of you.
The responsibility doesn’t end there, however. As Christian men, we must help others learn about the spark within themselves. That decision is also up to us to make.
Are you ready to help fan the flames in the lives of your friends and co-workers? Don’t miss “The Screaming Flame–Part 2.”