God Can Work With A Spark

A little grace, a spark of true love to God, a grain of living faith, though small as mustard-seed, is worth a thousand worlds. –Newton

The tiniest signs of true grace in others and ourselves should greatly encourage us.  The faintests whisps of smoke from a flickering flame are cause for us to hope for a blaze to come.

God begins his work in our lives by planting the seed of the gospel, joining it to faith the size of a mustard seed.  The seed puts forth a slender, fragile stalk, barely discernible above the soil.  Little by little, day by day, the stalk begins to bud and put forth tiny trembling leaves.  Sometimes it looks like nothing is happening.  We may wonder if our little sapling is going to make it.  But gradually it grows until in time it becomes a mighty tree.

We need to be patient with all, but especially new believers. Sometimes they grow by fits and starts.  One day they’re bubbling with joy; the next, slogging about in the slough of despair.  One day they’re surveying the battlefield like conquering Bravehearts; the next day they’re languishing in a pit of condemnation.

Maybe this is you.  You sincerely called on Jesus, and you’re trying to follow him, but keep falling. You feel like it’s two steps forward, three back.  Don’t despair.  Don’t quit.  If there’s one spark of the life of Jesus in you, one grain of true love to Jesus in your heart, he will complete the good work he’s begun in you.  In five years you won’t believe what he’s done for you.

Maybe you’re praying for your son or daughter.  If there are any signs of genuine life in them, keep praying.  Keep looking for more.  If they desire to follow Christ, keep encouraging them, even if they keep failing.

A couple years ago, I had the opportunity to meet once a week and read through the gospel of Matthew with a grad student from China.  He wasn’t born again.  His background was Buddhist, so almost every sentence took explaining.  Part of his motivation was to learn English, but it seemed there was a glimmer of genuine interest in Christianity.

I’ll take a glimmer.  God can work with a spark. Where there’s a faint glow of true interest in Christ there’s hope.  So don’t despise the day of small beginnings, in yourself, your children, or any believer.

A bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench… (Isaiah 42:3)

photo by Mubina H

  • http://www.christinahastings.com Christina Hastings

    That's really encouraging. So just a question: did anything ever happen that you know of with the grad student from China?

    • Mark Altrogge

      Thanks Christina, when he went back to China we somehow missed each other and the email address I had for him no longer worked. But I continue to pray for him. He truly seemed interested in understanding Christianity. I believe I'll see him in heaven.