Christian Articles Archive

Where Did That Spark Plug Come From?

by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson

One moment the car was burning up the road, the next moment the engine compartment came alive with the insistent "Put, put, put" of a blown spark plug. The car's effective horsepower suddenly halved and we pulled to the side of the road. "Not now," I groaned. My pastor colleague and I were racing to a minister's conference at a mountain retreat center. The gathering was to begin with one of the scrumptious dinners the conference ground was famed for, ensuring a large, on-time attendance. Hood up, the diagnosis was confirmed. This trip would have to wait.

We coaxed the car to the nearest gas station, a mile away, its steady staccato reverberating for all to hear. Using basic tools I kept in the trunk for just such a emergency, I removed the remains of the spark plug.

By this time it was nearly 6 pm. Neither of the stations at this rural freeway offramp carried that particular plug. The only parts house open was a dozen miles distant, and the car would barely run now.

I could envision the mouth-watering marinated steaks coming off the BBQ just about now. The hot baked potato smothered with butter, sour cream, and chives was almost real. I breathed a despairing prayer.

Rummaging through my small tool box for the nth time for another socket I came across a spark plug--just the right one, though slightly used, refugee from a plug-changing session a year before. What a shout of praise went up! Soon the plug was installed and we were on the road--an hour late, but rejoicing in God's goodness. "Lord, save us steaks," I prayed aloud.

How strange, I reflected as slowed for curves on the windy road, that I could look through my tool box so carefully, and yet not see the plug the first time. Perhaps I wasn't looking for it, perhaps I didn't expect to find one.

My mind turned to our congregation. Too often I ask my favorite tools and parts to do yet another job, without carefully searching for and researching the less-known members in the tool kit. As I drove I resolved to stop complaining about our lack of workers and take the time to really understand the people God has given to our small church, then spend the time training them for the tasks at hand. How often I have happened upon the rich gifts of a member who had sat quietly in a pew for years, waiting to be discovered.

We arrived an hour late. Ministers were slowly leaving the dining room in groups of two or three, contented smiles on their faces. We rushed to the kitchen. What do you know? They had saved us steaks.

Copyright © 1985-2014, Ralph F. Wilson. <pastor@joyfulheart.com> All rights reserved. A single copy of this article is free. Do not put this on a website. See legal, copyright, and reprint information.

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