By Lindsay Schott
Recently I spent some time meditating on 2 Timothy 1:6: “I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you” (NASB). What in the world did this mean, I wondered. As I pondered the words, my husband came to mind.
My husband loves primitive camping, which means camping with only basic tools and carrying all you have on your back. When he was in third grade he asked his parents if he could go into the woods alone with just his hatchet to find out how well he could survive. Their response was, “We’ll think about it.” The solo trip never happened, and I think his heart is still longing for that experience.
Meanwhile, he has educated me on starting a fire from scratch, which begins with one thing: a spark. A minuscule, barely visible, glowing speck of energy. Blink, and you’d miss it. But if you have a spark, you have a fighting chance at a roaring fire.
Here’s what you do. Using a flint and steel, you aim your spark at something delicate and incredibly dry, such as dried grass, thin bark, or laundry lint. These things are called tinder because they catch fire easily. The spark will burn into the tinder and become an ember, a larger speck of energy. Then you hold the delicate collection of ember and tinder and gently blow. If you blow too fiercely, the ember will go out. But if you blow slowly, gently, and patiently, your ember will eventually burst into flame. Lay your flaming tinder ball down and add a few small, dry twigs called kindling and let them catch fire. Keep gently blowing. When your twigs are on fire, add small branches or sticks, then add larger branches. And finally, when your fire is successfully burning branches, add your logs.
Why do I share this process? So you can start a fire from scratch and impress your friends? Absolutely. But also for something much more important: to provide a metaphor to help you consider how you can cultivate a relationship with God.
Sometimes our relationship with God begins as a spark—a minuscule, barely visible, glowing speck of energy. But we think our relationship with him should instantly become a roaring bonfire. We think our little spark of energy is worthless. Focusing on a roaring bonfire, however, is shortsighted. By valuing only the bonfire, we ignore the small steps, patient work, and waiting that must happen first. A bonfire is just a spark that’s been given time and care.
You may be undervaluing your own spark right now. Maybe you struggle with guilt because you are not yet a raging bonfire for Jesus. The thought of regular church attendance or studying the Bible feels overwhelming. You may hear a voice in your head saying, “You should be reading the Bible more, praying more, interacting with your church family more, volunteering more.” More, more, more. And at the end of the day, your spark is diminished by the weight of all you aren’t doing. So you leave your spark alone, embarrassed that it’s all you have. Of what use is a spark?
Your spark is bursting with potential if only you will feed it, slowly and consistently. You must fuel your spark with God’s Word and expose yourself to his presence. If you are patient, God will grow your spark into an ember. Then you can continue to nurse the ember in your heart. Be patient and intentional and watch as love for God and his Word bursts into flame. Keep consuming his Word and his presence. Feed your fire. Kindle it afresh daily. Then when you are years (yes, I just said years) down the road and you can’t imagine your life without the daily strengthening of his presence and Word, you will be able to look back and remember your fire started with a tiny, minuscule spark.
Don’t just jump in and try to set a log on fire. Find some tinder and cast your tiny spark on it. Ask yourself, “What is the next small step I can take to feed the spark of God in me?” Be brave and go for it. Your spark of energy will be faithfully tended by God’s Spirit and his Word. Trust that God can do this work in you and that he wants to. Consider throwing your ember in with those of others and growing alongside friends. Embers glow hotter, stronger, and burn longer when they’re grouped together.
Kindle afresh the work of God in you. Small steps, carefully and patiently taken, are each worth it. No effort is ever wasted. If you have a spark, you have a fighting chance at a fire.
Lindsay lives in the Dallas, Texas area, raising her 3 little girls alongside her high school sweetheart, Landon. When she’s not changing diapers, unwrapping cheese sticks or wiping noses, she enjoys writing, mentoring, graphic design and daydreaming about sleep. Lindsay’s greatest passion is equipping women to know and love their Bibles, thereby growing in their love and loyalty to Jesus. She blogs when she can at Theology and Lip Gloss.
Photograph © Janko Ferlic, used with permission