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  • Writer's pictureSharon

Pass It On

Yesterday, the Lord gave me an amazing opportunity.  I had to the chance to thank someone who had encouraged me 38 years ago.  I was only in her path for a short time, but I never forgot her.  She "saw" me at a time when I felt invisible.

Carole was the wife of the pastor of a church my husband and I attended in the mid-1980s.  We had been attending for almost a year when the pastor was asked to resign; we left and never went back.

Several years ago, my friend Kim and I realized we had both attended the church at the same time.  I told her I wished I knew where Carole was living; I would love to thank her for blessing me.  Kim smiled. She told me Carole was her good friend, that she had remarried, and was serving on the foreign mission field.  My jaw dropped.  I asked Kim to let Carole know I'd love to reconnect.  Last week Kim texted me; Carole would love to hear from me.

I was so excited!  I knew this was a God-arranged opportunity!

When I first met Carole, I was struggling for significance. I was married, but didn't feel loved or protected.  I was cheerful, but my heart was heavy with disappointment.  I longed for a deeper walk with the Lord, but my faith was wavering.

We were invited to the church by a couple in our apartment complex. I was excited when my husband agreed to go.  Two years earlier, I had married him knowing he didn't share my faith.  I married thinking my positive influence would change him.  I married with the hope that we would one day follow the Lord together.

When I was introduced to Carole, I sensed there was something special about her. Because the pastor's wife at my previous church had repeatedly crushed my spirit with her critical tongue, each week I'd watch Carole from a safe distance. The more I watched, the more I longed to get to know her; even more, I longed to known by her.  Yet experience had taught me that she was "out of my league."  After all, she had been chosen by God to serve alongside of her husband in ministry and, there I was, struggling to feel worthy in my godless marriage.  She was a talented pianist and played countless old hymns effortlessly, while I only knew the words to a few songs.  She was strong and confident in her faith, yet I doubted the Lord really loved me.

One night at a church baseball game, she plopped her lawn chair beside me and started to chat.  I was both in awe and extremely nervous.  It was only a matter of minutes before she had put me at ease and conversation flowed. My months of observation was confirmed to be correct: Carole was genuinely kind and the love of Jesus oozed out of her.

Not only did she talk with me, she listened to me.  The following Sunday morning during service, she began to play the piano during prayer time.  She had only played a few notes when my eyes flew open and my head shot up.  At the game, she had asked me what my favorite hymn was — and now she was playing it.

I had first heart the song, Pass It On, when I was in my late teens. The lyrics stirred my heart:

It only takes a spark

To get a fire going

And soon all those around

Can warm up in its glowing

That's how it is with God's love

Once you've experienced it

You spread His love to ev'ryone

You want to pass it on.

I wanted to be a spark and pass on God's love. But life had blown out my candle and smothered the embers of hope.  I was in the dark. I was discouraged. I was invisible.

As Carole played, she searched for me in the small congregation.  When we made eye contact, she smiled. Tears filled my eyes and spilled down my face.  She had seen me. She had heard me.  She had touched my heart.  Deeply.   

As she sat across from me in the coffee shop yesterday, my eyes brimmed with grateful tears.  I was finally able to thank her for seeing me, a struggling young woman desperate to feel worthy and loved. She had been the instrument Jesus used to love me on that day long ago. 

While it took several years — and a significant heartbreak — for the spark of that moment to ignite within me, the flame did erupt and my fire for Jesus now burns bright.  I now try to do what Carole did for me: to see the invisible, hear the unheard, and touch the lonely.  I want to be the hands and feet of Jesus in the seemingly insignificant and easily forgettable moments.  I want to pass it on.

I wish for you my friend

This happiness that I've found

You can depend on Him

It matters not where you're bound

I'll shout it from the mountain top

I want my world to know

The Lord of love has come to me

       I want to pass it on.

My friend, God sees you. He hears you. He loves you.

He will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for His own glory. - Isaiah 61:3

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