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?

13 comments:

Vennessa said...

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.
2 Timothy 1:6 (NIV)

Vennessa said...

I'll be right back. I have to go throw another log on the fire ...

Robin Lee Hatcher said...

Hey, Brandilyn. 2 Tim 1:6 is a verse that God gave me when He called me into the CBA. I use it in my testimony. I love the NASB version: "And for this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you ..."

Enjoy yourself up north.

Robin

Cara Putman said...

What a great encouragement! I think the challenge is to take the gift and dream God gives us and walk with Him without running ahead or lagging behind. At the same time there is something incredible exciting -- and nervewrecking -- about finding myself in a place where I must reach outside myself and depend on Him. Law school was that way. And this writing journey is the same. What an awesome challenge to take the gifts He breaths into us, and then steward those with just enough wind to fan the flames wihtout letting them die out or erupt in a flash fire that dies a quick death. Blessings on your writing, Brandilyn, as you seek His face and His plan for your writing at this stage in your ministry/calling.

One More Writer said...

I've been lurking on your blog, Brandilyn, since last year's Mount Hermon, and enjoying it all. Today's post was exactly the word I needed to hear.

Thank you.

D'Ann

Domino said...

Excellent post. Very encouraging. I realize that my flame is tiny, but it's a start. And it's bigger than it was last year. If I do nothing, I'm not showing appreciation to the One who gave the gift.

I keep fanning and fanning, hoping that every piece of wood I add will be sufficient fuel. A three foot log would put out my flame, but I see the need for a bigger stick occasionally. Fan, add fuel, fan...

Corina Bowen said...

You know... you asked, "what would you write to your son if you knew it was probably your last letter" Before I went to Mexico on a mission trip.. I was warned over and over that it was dangerous.. Intel from work, the reports from the family we were going to stay with.. etc. I wrote a letter to each one of my children- It was the hardest thing I have ever done. Your blog really hit me- I too told them to "fan their flame" without even knowing that it was scripture. I still have those letters... never read(thankfully) and figure that once a year, I would write another letter and add it to the big envelope.
I agree with us having to work at it, strive forward, and believe. Its all part of that faith.
Thanks for the reminder.

Becky said...

Brandilyn, I'm a cover-to-cover Bible reader, too. I love that approach, but this linear tack is intriguing. I have an inter-linear of the gospels--weaving the 4 accounts into one sequential story--and that is really interesting, too.

BTW, if you are ever "stuck" in Idaho (Oh, to have such a problem--hahah) without a particular version of the Bible, there are some great web sites that have Scripture in just about any translation or paraphrase you'd want. Check Bible Gateway, Blue Letter Bible, Bible study tools on Crosswalk. I suspect there are others.

Becky

Lynette Sowell said...

Fanning the flame. Not using a blow dryer or a wind tunnel. A gentle old-fashioned fan, the kind you hold in your hands. I need to remember that and not force the blaze.

As a writer who does other things too, it is difficult to know when to say "when" sometimes. Just as it's hard to put out more than one fire, if I try to start more than one, well, that can get tricky too.

Camy Tang said...

Awesome post, Brandilyn. My challenge for this year has been my writing discipline, and I've been struggling at it. I've been reading Proverbs and every line about laziness has punched me in the gut. The image of fanning a campfire has motivated and inspired me today.

Camy

Lynetta said...

Thanks for the wonderful encouragement, Brandilyn! It's just what I needed to hear today. I will have to come back and review this post from time to time.

Dineen A. Miller said...

Wow, Brandilyn! Just before I read this I IMed a friend about feeling doubtful about my writing skill. Then just minutes later, ready your post. This so spoke to me. I'm the one trying to get from a tiny spark to a blazing bonfire. All day I keep hearing, slow down, slow down. God's really amazing...

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Brandilyn...thoughful post. god gifted me with the ability to use my hands. For the last 10 years I returned to being a self-employed seamstress, now I'm fanning the flames to turn that into an employed author.

If you need a Bible, go to the Bible study blog that I participate in, scroll down the sidebare to the open Bible and click. Select any version that you want. There's other reference bookd that you cal click on to use also..... Seek And Ye Shall Find