The author and pastor Stuart Briscoe tells of the time his car wouldn’t start.  Not knowing much about cars, he called a friend of his and asked if he’d take the time to come and look it over.  After a brief inspection, his friend said, “It’s either the spark or the fuel.”

Then he asked Briscoe to hold a couple wires and as Stuart relates it, in a few moments “my hair was standing up,” and he yelled to his friend to stop whatever he was doing.  Calmly his friend said, “It’s the fuel.”  Briscoe responded, “How do you know?”  The friend said, “You felt the spark didn’t you?”

I think Christianity works like that, too.  Jesus is the spark to ignite and change our lives.  A sign in front of a church years ago read, “If your religion hasn’t changed your life, you’d better change religions.”

After the spark has started us, then the fuel is supplied by the Holy Spirit, causing growth and change.  Christianity is not just a religion—it is a way of life.  It’s not just a worship experience practiced on Sunday, it is a relationship in which we participate actively with the Living God!  If our Christian lives are not growing in some manner, then there’s something wrong.  And since God initiated the “spark” it has to be the fuel…either we’re not filling the tank, or we’ve got a block in the fuel line.

Is something amiss in your life’s version of Christianity—is it not “working” for you?   If it seems dead, take a look at the fuel line.  Is the Holy Spirit flowing freely into you and through you on the way to others?


To better illustrate the concept of having a life powered by the Spirit of God, I’m going to use the simple contrast of a steam engine (like the old-time trains) and the common internal combustion engine (like those in cars).  Both engines convert external resources into internal fuel to drive the engines, but it’s how they convert the external fuel that causes the difference in the power and longevity of the engine’s service.  The steam engine will last much longer than the internal combustion engine, with less wear and tear.

This seemed to me to be an easy way to think about how the fuel of the Holy Spirit can work through us.

So often when we “work” for God, we are powered as an internal combustion engine.  All that power and energy churning and churning inside of us.  But our “parts” wear out quickly and we can’t utilize the fuel provided properly.  We function for a while very well, but eventually the spark just fades and we break down.

If we focused on letting God flip the switch and power us, we would be using a different fuel source, which is unlimited.  We wouldn’t be afraid we might short-circuit and not finish a task.  We’d use a power source that would not burn out, or cause us to wear out.  In fact, we’d be built up, made better and more powerful with God’s energy.

This continuing supply of power is ours, from our all-powerful God.  Ephesians 6:10 urges us to “…be strong in the Lord (empowered through your union with Him); draw your strength from Him—that strength which His might (powerfulness) provides.”

by Cindy Best