Lighting the Unexpected Flame

Posted: September 4, 2013 in Apologetics, Military
Tags: , , , ,
Originally posted on June 29, 2011
“We won’t always know whose lives we touched and made better for our having cared, because actions can sometimes have unforeseen ramifications. What’s important is that you do care and you act.” -Charlotte Lunsford
As a Christian, my goal is to be a reflection of Christ so that others will come to know Him as well; not force my faith on someone, or manipulate them with my beliefs. I humbly admit that I have often been a poor reflection of Christ in my life.
So it came as a shock, to say the least, when I met a good friend of mine who I will call Red. In his words, he’s a person ‘you never expected to reach out for Christ’.
Red is a very realistic man, a logical soldier and a committed cop who has little room for religion. He admittingly said he has struggled with his thoughts about Christ throughout his life. A devout Catholic growing up, he began to see a strong hypocrisy within the church, and he fell away from it all.
Red lived a hard life as a soldier. He served in two branches of service and afterwards he became a big city cop. Greatly affected by the events of 9/11, he gave up almost everything he had to serve his country again. He has seen suffering and death from all angles, and then some. Only a military man could understand what his eyes have seen, his hands have done, how his soul was affected…
We met during a heated argument that I was having with someone over the abortion issue. I was battle weary. He suggested this: “use your energy to spread your message and not argue it…much more productive…you did well your energy …they feed off of your energy to them…”. His care and concern gave me strength. He was willing to reach out to a stranger and encourage her. Red noticed how defeated I was and ever so chivalrously lent a hand and picked me up off the ground.
From there, we struck up such a unique friendship. I say ‘unique’ because it was odd how easily we conversed. There were no uncomfortable moments. We could share things about our lives- joys, struggles, pain, and adventures- as if we were old friends. He mentioned my faith often, saying he had faith but it was weak and unreal; that it wasn’t fake, but it just wasn’t as strong as he perceived mine to be.
One night after several conversations, he shared with me an uneasiness he felt that he’s never had before. He would be deploying soon, things were tense at home because of it; but I also knew he wasn’t scared, didn’t stress out and was very grounded. So to say he felt uneasy was a little odd coming from him.
As we talked, he would notice little things here and there, coincidences it seemed. His uneasiness seemed to grow. He began to wonder if God might be trying to tell him something. He thought maybe this was a sign saying he should get his affairs in order because ‘you never know when a mortar will have your name on it.’
At this point in the conversation, I became fearful. Knowing my friend has come through several deployments alive and well did not soothe the ache in my gut over the thought of losing him this time. Especially losing him without knowing for sure the condition of his soul… and here he was, actually freaked out that God was trying to tell him something. He fears nothing…except God Almighty.
For a no B.S., grounded, military soldier to be freaked out, it really had me scared. I began to wonder about the significance of our conversation, as did he. I didn’t want to push my faith on him, but it was obvious that God intended for Red to understand something right then and there.
I told him his first priority, in getting his affairs in order, was to get right with God. I had no idea what scripture to give him… I just asked him to read Psalm 139, my favorite passage in the Bible. From there, he became a sponge, wanting to read more, learn more… I was searching for scripture to quench his thirst, all the while kicking myself for not knowing them off the top of my head for a moment such as this.
I sensed a peace settling into him with each reply he sent me. Fear was replaced by the ability to breathe and the comfort of God’s hand on us both.
I believe he accepted Christ that night. He was willing to surrender his hurt and betrayal of his past religion. He was willing to give his life to Christ and seek solace in our Savior.
The Holy Spirit had prepared the kindling in Red’s soul, and I was placed there to light the match that started the fire for Christ. God is to receive all the credit and glory!
As I look back on that night, I’m in awe of how God could prepare someone so burned by religion like Red, and use me, a dirty reflection of His perfect Son, as an instrument to show Red the way to Him.
My fire was lit decades ago. Christ allowed me to share that flame and light Red’s fire on June 1, 2011. And in coming full circle, Red reignited my fading flame for Christ through it all.
He sent me this quote shortly after that night:
      “At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” ~Albert Schweitzer
Red, let’s go light some flames! 
Soldier on!
 Many religions have their own form of ‘converting’ the ‘lost’. Religion is man made and we all know how mankind screws up, a lot! We cannot put our faith in religion because it didn’t, doesn’t and will never save anyone.
God sent His Son Jesus to take the punishment in our place, to save us, the Holy Spirit is who speaks to us, softens our hearts, prepares us to hear the good news. The ‘good news’ of course is to hear how there is hope for us, after death, to live eternally in Heaven.
But who will speak this good news? The Bible says (Mark 16:15) WE are to spread the good news to everyone. Does that mean WE save people? No. We are to be an example of what God has done in our lives, how we were saved, being obedient to spread the word, and allow the Holy Spirit to work in the lives around us.
We will never know who the Holy Spirit is preparing around us. We will never know if our actions will light the kindling, or rain on it, further delaying the fire. Be prepared for an unexpected encounter with someone like Red. Don’t miss out on the chance to light someone else’s fire for Christ!
  1. […] and their families. I had a friend in Afghanistan at the time, “Red” as I called him in “Lighting the Unexpected Flame”. Worry set in and I emailed him, hoping and praying he was alright, and worried for his family back […]

  2. […] and their families. I had a friend in Afghanistan at the time, “Red” as I called him in “Lighting the Unexpected Flame”. Worry set in and I emailed him, hoping and praying he was alright, and worried for his family back […]

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