On our recent holiday we hired a 9-seater car. It was wonderfully spacious for the extended family and holiday luggage, but being unfamiliar with it meant keeping an eye on fuel consumption to ensure we did not run out.
These days, fuel gauges on modern cars are reliable, and so it’s a relatively easy job to check fuel consumpation; petrol stations – even in unfamiliar places – are plentiful, and so the job of keeping track of energy needs is not onerous. It’s often harder as a person to ‘read’ our fuel gauges, though. In the Message version, Romans 12:11 is translated as ‘don’t burn out; keep yourselves fuelled and aflame.”
How do we do this? How do we keep our spiritual fervour through the difficulties (and boredom) of life? We may make special preparations for long journeys in a car, but what about the daily runs? In the same way, how do we remain ‘stoked’ in the ordinary, which makes up the majority of our lives?
Paul told Timothy to ‘fan into flame the gift of God’ (2 Tim 1:6). We have a personal and individual responsibility to keep fuelled and aflame, to keep ablaze. This can only be done by regular refuelling. How we do this may well vary according to individuals, but will always include:
1) time alone with God in prayer and Bible study
2) times of rest (we can’t keep going endlessly but need to heed the cycles of rest and refreshment God has built into our world, including regular daily sleep, weekly Sabbath rest and holidays)
3) time with other believers in gathered worship
If we are to maintain zeal and spiritual fervour and live a life of service, we must be refuelled and replenished in God.