Inspiring the Spark Within

By Staff Writer

We may never know what impact we may have on others. We might even think that no one really notices what we do. But someone is always watching. And what we do or say can make a huge difference in someone's life -- make someone happy or sad or lead to major life changes.

A friend of mine had an experience that proved this truth. He saw someone his own age excel at swimming. That person inspired and motivated him to be the best he could be. Here's his story:

"I grew up swimming in our back yard pool, but I didn't start swimming competitively until I was a sophomore in high school. Because swimming was not a big focus of the school, our swim team was very small. I had never been to a big meet, had never seen the big scene.

It came time for the first big State meet of the season. I walked into the pool complex just as the first race, the 100-yard freestyle, was starting. When I saw one of the State's leading swimmers swim that race, I was amazed. For the first time, I saw how incredibly fast and how incredibly capable someone could be. I saw how much endurance someone could have. This was a 5-minute race, and he was moving so fast the whole way.

I'll never forget that moment. It was one of those "Aha!" moments. This swimmer had a huge impact on me. It lit a spark in me, and I joined the big age group teams (which are not part of the schools) so I could practice and compete throughout the year. I became determined to become the best that I could be.

As time went on, and this same swimmer and I began swimming together, we became friends. In fact, from his inspiration, I worked so hard that I joined him as one of the leading swimmers in the State. We both set new records in our respective races. I continued competing for the rest of my high school and college careers, always working to be my best, and along the way, setting many new records for my college.

Of course, before each race, I always prayed to God, asking for strength and endurance. God always answered my prayers.

It's truly incredible to think about how much influence one person, one action, one word can have on someone else. You never know when someone is ready to be inspired or is looking for something you may have. It's important to think of ourselves as setting examples for others. So whatever we do, we want to do it well.

We all have hidden talents. We just may not always know what they are. Every one of us has a spark for something. It may just take the right kind of inspiration to find it. So as long as we stay open and watch, we'll discover the spark that is within us."

We read in the Bible that "there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding" (Job 32:8). So let's keep our thought open to new inspiration -- especially from God! And let's be an inspiration for others to follow. We never know who is looking.