About a year ago I had the opportunity to head into the forest with a group of young people to rediscover the simplicity of life. What we discovered instead was how complicated it was to start a fire. It had been raining all week, and so most of the wood around us was soaked through. Just as we managed to land a spark upon our tinder the heavens opened and rain fell once again. We hastily stacked the wood around the fledgling flames and fanned them until our fire confidently burned.
In his second letter to Timothy, Paul uses the concept of fire building to call Timothy to action (2 Timothy 1:6). Paul acknowledges that Timothy has been supplied with all the tools that he could need to build a fire, but now it is over to him. He has his firewood in the form of his Christian childhood. He has his kindling which was gifted him via Paul. And God Himself has given him the vital spark needed to create a blaze. But even with all this material and energy, Timothy still needs to work to fan his embers into flames.
Sometimes we can over-spiritualise life and miss this crucial point. When we claim that success is down to God alone, we are only partly correct. God alone is indeed the source of that life-giving spark, but hasn’t He charged us with a role to play in this world too? In reality, we can be given all we need to stoke an enormous bonfire and yet see it fizzle out and die because we refuse to take hold of our responsibility. If we have gifts, abilities, and a calling, it would be hopelessly foolish to assume that we merely observe them coming to life. No, instead we are called to use our God-given talents and abilities to improve both ourselves and the community we are a part of.
I want to encourage you this morning with a reminder that God has given us all we need to succeed in serving Him. We lack nothing. The question is: will we fan our embers into flames?