Have you ever tried to start a fire? I grew up with a wood stove as our primary source of heat and when I was little, I remember watching as my uncle would light the fire. Most times, he’d have to spend a considerable amount of time (or maybe it just seemed that way to me!) blowing on the sparks before the fire actually grew big enough to begin burning the logs that would provide heat in our home. And I would stand right there, waiting impatiently as he fanned the flame, ready to feel it’s warmth because I hated being cold (and still do— I’m definitely a warm-weather kinda gal!).
In a different sense of a flame to be fanned, we read in scripture where the Apostle Paul writes to Timothy, a young man he regarded as a younger brother and who he mentored along the way into ministry, encouraging Timothy to “fan into flame the gift of God which is in you…” (2 Timothy 1:6 NIV). So what does this mean for us? When we struggle with depression. When doubts and fear plague our minds. When it seems like things will never get better. Just think a happy thought or whistle a merry tune and all will be well? Hardly.
Timothy, at this time was leading what today we would call a mega-church and was coming under some harsh criticism so Paul, from jail and facing a death sentence for his faith, writes to encourage Timothy. Fan the flame. I imagine Timothy was feeling a lot of despair, yet, he is instructed to fan the flame! How exactly is he supposed to do that? How are we?
When starting a fire, we need the proper material; dry wood, some paper and a match. Maybe for you the proper material looks like getting some positive and encouraging friends around you. Or maybe finding a thriving, life-giving church to start attending. Maybe it looks like winning the battle of depression by taking one small step at a time and seeking good counseling. And once you have a spark, even if it’s just a tiny one, fan the it into a flame by remembering the good gift of God that is already in you! If it starts to go out, fan it again! Like when I was little, in the mornings, the house would be freezing because no one had tended the fire all night and it had dwindled down to just low-burning embers. It wasn’t completely out, but neither did it provide any heat. Until it was fanned again.
Sometimes, we just need to encourage ourselves! Fan our own flame! Just like David does here in Psalms 42:5-6a; “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!” (NLT) David acknowledges his struggle. But then tells himself where he can find hope and how he can fan his flame by offering praise. I’ve had to fan my flame a lot during these past several weeks during quarantine because I can struggle with depression as I shared in “The Road That Leads To Nowhere” and “Coming Out Of The Darkness”. Motivation is as fickle as the weather these days. Each morning my thoughts face off in a dual. There’s the part of me that wants to get up early, work out and tackle the day with productive activity! Then, there’s the other side. The one that makes excuses to stay in bed a little longer and says that working out will take sooooo much effort! Anyone else have this battle with themselves? Feeling like you’ve gone through combat before one foot even touches the floor? Like a sizzled-out fire that needs fanned?
I’m with ya! But when I allow people like Timothy and David to encourage me, I’m fanning my flame! It may take some time to get the fire roaring, but it’s well worth the effort! And who knows? You may surprise yourself by discovering that you’re able to face or do things you never thought you could when you fan your flame! Maybe you could even inspire someone else to fan their flame!
So, be kind to yourself and take a moment to treasure the gift of God in you because you are a treasure to God! And fan that flame!
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