Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Starting a Blaze
Recently in my devotions I was reading II Timothy, Paul’s last letter, sent to his spiritual “son.” From the tone, Paul evidently knew his time was running short. He talks about having run his race, having fought the good fight. Paul knows he will soon be in heaven.
What would you write to a son or daughter if you knew it was probably your last letter? Paul writes numerous points of counsel to Timothy about how to run his church. I’ve read this book many times. Have to admit I have little creativity when it comes to reading the Bible. I simply read it through, and when I’m done—I start over. Usually I read in the New American Standard Version. But this time through the New Testament, I’m reading an NIV linear version. That is, books and passages from books appear in order of their events instead of the typical biblical line-up.
One line absolutely jumped out at me, probably because I don’t usually read in the NIV. Fan into flame the gift of God.
Fan into flame the gift of God.
Paul was talking about a particular gift God had granted Timothy “through the laying on of hands.”
(By the way: I’m in Idaho at the moment, and without an NIV Bible. Somebody please look for this line in II Timothy and post what verse this is.)
A visual jumps in my head as I think of this sentence. A picture of someone bending low over a stack of twigs, struggling to help them catch fire from a lit piece of paper underneath. The person alternately blows and fans, but carefully. Not enough, and the fire won’t catch. Too much, and the flame will be extinguished. The person must shelter the fire from wind. Must nurture it, have patience with it, believe in it. Work it.
God gives gifts to each of us in the form of talents. The ability is from Him. He created it. But we must fan it into flame, with God’s help. We must tend it, believe in it, nurture and protect it. Work it. And once it’s crackling and bright, giving others heat, we must continue to stoke it.
As an author who often struggles, I immediately applied this passage to my writing. God may have given me an ability to write, but that doesn’t mean that fire just blazes away on its own. I have to fan that gift into flame. It takes work, diligence. It’s not always easy and often not fun.
Paul did not say, “Sit back and enjoy that bonfire God started for you.”
Fan into flame the gift of God. What is your gift? Are you fanning it just the right amount? Have you just started nurturing it, and already expect a bonfire? Or are you forgetting to stoke it at all?