On Sunday evening we looked at Paul’s instruction to Timothy, “I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” (2 Tim 1:6-7)

There are times when we feel it’s all down to us to keep our first love ablaze, but we need to understand that God is able to complete the work He has started in our lives (Phil 1:6). There is no need for us to backslide or fall away from God, because God has given us all that we need to live a godly life in Christ Jesus. Paul’s confidence does not come from his own personal circumstances (most of the New Testament was written from prison cells and he certainly endured much hardship for Christ’s sake!), but from the fire of God which burned within him.

That fire of God can burn even in wilderness periods. David found that when he was on the run from Saul and living in caves, he learned to depend on God and found him to be his refuge (see Ps 11:1, for example.) The wilderness can be a wild, dangerous place, but God is present there just as much as He is present in the ordinary. Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Spirit of God to win a battle against the enemy. We may find ourselves in situations where God feels a long way away, but it’s not all about feelings! God remains true, faithful, ever dependable, wherever we are.

Ezekiel, in the Valley of Dry Bones (Ezek 37), saw the miraculous occur as God breathed on the dry bones to bring life from nothing. The dual aspect of fanning into flame the gift of God is similar to rekindling a fire that is about to go out. We have to rake through the ashes, repenting of our sin and desire for independence. But we also need the fuel of God’s Spirit in our lives if we are to see the fire rekindled. Only God can give us the courage, strength and grace that we need, but we can have confidence in Him because He is “able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy,” (Jude 1:24)

God, after all, is the One who will keep the fires burning! Matt Redman, ‘Fires’