II Timothy 1:6, “Fan into flame the gift of God”
Harley Sheffield was part of the 15,000-mile relay to carry the Olympic torch to the 100th gathering of the games in Atlanta. His section of the relay went over the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Washington, on May 7th, 1996. While carrying the torch in a special holder on his bicycle, the rear tire blew out, he lost control of the bike, fell, the torch got damaged, and the flame went out. The crowd gasped in disbelief, but members of the Olympic committee accompanying Sheffield knew just what to do. They reached into their van, pulled out another torch and lit it from the “mother flame” that stayed with the van. The procession continued without further incident.
At times we need to rekindle the flame, with a little help. A relative of mine worked at a kids’ summer camp, and to get the campfire going would used an old “Native American” method: Wakunda Juice…otherwise known as lighter fluid!
Has our flame gone out at times? As we make our journey through life, we hit some rough spots, take some spills, and occasionally the fire goes out…but we can regain our fire from the Source, and we can again burn with spiritual passion. When we fall, we get up, learn from our experience, repent, and keep driving on, with renewed strength. When we get weary, God renews our strength. By His grace, we persevere.
People who talk about “fire in the belly” are declaring that they have the motivation to accomplish something difficult and challenging, that they have the drive to do it, to see it through--because it is well worth doing. Preachers often talk about “being on fire for Jesus”, meaning the same thing. Are we committed followers, or has our fire gone out?
In the Book of Acts, on the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit appeared as flames atop each disciple, energizing them for the task of telling the world the Good News. They were “fired up” for the job! They burned brightly for God.
How do we fan into flame God’s fire? By first realizing that it’s not about us; God’s flame is a gift. God is the one who kindles and reignites us so that we can burn brightly. He uses others; one spark becomes a stronger flame when it is joined to others. We’re better able to live for God and reflect His light when we’re together. Here’s our mission…
Matthew 5, from the Message: “You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I'm putting you on a light stand. Now that I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand--shine!”