While I was in the kitchen early Saturday evening, absorbing the smells of onion, peppers and spice in the cast iron skillet, I had a Christian song from over 20 years ago come to mind. At first, I couldn’t remember enough words or notes to bring lyrics or melody to mind, much less to actually sing it. “What is that song?” I asked Randa, as she added a little more to the skillet. “You know, the one about…” and then I struggled to remember a single solid phrase. After a while, with a few more fragments pulled from memory’s hard drive, Randa had it. “Light the Fire Again?”
Yep, that’s it! Nope, it’s not a Jose Feliciano song.
Brian Doerksen wrote the song in 1994 and is also the author of another one of our very favorite worship songs, aptly name Come, Now Is the Time to Worship. At first, I thought I’d just happened to think of a song that I really liked and that was it. Something about Light the Fire Again was compelling, something more than just remembering a really great song.
As Saturday evening eased on into the dark hours, the compulsion became stronger. I looked up the song chords, changed the key and started practicing it. Even though it had nothing to do with the sermon I’d been working on through the week, I just felt that I really needed to sing it at church Sunday morning.
So, I did.
As I introduced the song, I described what happened to me Saturday evening and said, “I haven’t been stalking any of you on FaceBook but I’m pretty sure someone here needs this song today.”
Then, I talked about how sometimes we feel empty, exhausted, worn out, ground down. “I’ve got a little Ford Ranger pickup that I love. I’ve worked that thing to death for the past 22 years. The gas gage needle can get way down below ‘E’ and I still have a couple of miles of gas left… but I need to go four more miles.”
I read the NIV translation of Isaiah 57:15
For this is what the high and exalted One says—
he who lives forever, whose name is holy:
“I live in a high and holy place,
but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly
and to revive the heart of the contrite.’
Just before I sang the song, I tried to offer persuasion and encouragement, “I want you to know that God is here today to revive your spirit and your heart.” While I was singing, I could see several folks in deep thought. One or two folks were weeping and some others looked like they were on the verge of it. There was such a strong sense of Presence.
I know that someone there needed that and there was no natural explanation for how I could know that. The natural explanation doesn’t matter even slightly to me. I’d felt a spiritual, mystical, or supernatural drawing to that song and I listened. I was nothing more than an instrument being used to bring someone else a message of hope and encouragement that they needed. Lord knows, I’ve been there often enough in my life.
Might be that today or tomorrow or sometime soon, you’ll get a sense that you should make a phone call, write a note, send an email, go by someone’s office, stop off on your way home. Don’t worry about rationalizing, analyzing, or explain-alyzing. Just do it.
Doc Arnett has been a professional educator and bi-vocational minister for more than 40 years. He currently pastors the Community Church of South Haven.