Today’s first Mass reading from Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy, is one that never fails to move me. In it, Paul reminds Timothy to “stir into flame the gift of God that you have.” For, as Paul says, “God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control.”
I absolutely love the image of stirring into flame the gifts we have been given. I imagine leaning over a campfire blowing into a small fire, coaxing it along until it until bursts into flames. Or kneeling in front of the fireplace, blowing on the embers underneath a new log, hoping they are enough to get that log going. As anyone who has ever built a fire knows, the process requires patience and persistence.
God gives us amazing gifts, but doesn’t give them to us full-blown. God expects us to develop the the gifts we have been given and make them grow so that we can fulfill our mission to proclaim the Word.
The task is not always an easy one. We face hardships and we face temptations; Jesus never promised otherwise. (In fact he was pretty clear difficulties would arise.)
But as with everything else, we don’t do the stirring on our own. Rather, we have “the strength that comes from God” and we have been given a spirit, not of cowardice, “but rather of power and love and self-control.”
So go out and stir into flame the gifts you have been given!