Have you ever built a fire?
It looks so easy when you see someone else do it, but there's actually more to it than what first appears.
Building a fire that lasts takes time and care. You need to find the right fuel. You need to stack it the right way. You need to find something to create a spark. You need to tend it, add tinder, and slowly build it up until it can sustain itself.
Good fires are built carefully, slowly, and faithfully. Good fires need consistency. But when you get there, when your coals are at the right intensity, just about anything you throw on it catches on fire.
In the first chapter of 2 Timothy, Paul calls us to build that kind of fire into our lives.
Over the past two blogs we saw how Paul calls his protege Timothy to wake up and to fan the fire in his life into flame. He calls Timothy to confidence and to courage. But there's one more wake up call Paul has to give. It's a call to consistency.
A Call to Consistency
We're called to consistency. We're called to small, faithful things. We're called to repetition, to repeat those small acts of faith over and over in imitation of the most confident and courageous man who ever lived.
"What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus." (2 Timothy 1:13)
Paul calls Timothy to follow the pattern set forth by Christ. Earlier in the chapter he recalls Timothy's mother and grandmother, and the examples of faith they provide for Timothy. By following those patterns and echoing their faith, Timothy can find the consistency to do something crucial: to "guard the good deposit:"
"Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us." (2 Timothy 1:14)
The Good Deposit
We have a pattern, and we have a "deposit." What are they? They're exactly the same thing. They're the essential message, quality, and experience of Jesus Christ. Paul encourages Timothy to let go of inner conflict, to ignore external conflict, and get into the Gospel.
When we use the word "Gospel," it sounds religious to us. But for Timothy it was just an ordinary word that meant the announcement of good news.
What is the good news that God wants you to hold at the center of your life? It's the news that Jesus Christ loves you more, gave you more, and desires more for your life than you could ever ask or imagine. God is closer to you than you know. Hold onto that above all else and you'll come out of any conflict awake, alive, and on fire. That's what Jesus wants you to hold onto.
Finding Your Fuel
Paul transitions from chapter one to chapter two of his letter with a simple thought: "be strong in grace."
When it comes to building a fire, not all fuels are equal. When you want to fan your life's flame into a fire, there's no better fuel than the grace of God. God loves you and extends his grace to you freely. When you hold that truth in the center of your life, your flame becomes a raging wildfire.
A wildfire burns away dead brush. It lets sun hit the soil and bring nutrients out of dead things. It does best when going uphill and when there is lots of dead material available.
If you feel like you're going uphill, or that you're surrounded with deadness, you are a prime candidate for the fire of God. You can make a comeback. That deadness in you is waiting for the Spirit of God to blow on it and bring you alive again.
That wildfire is waiting. It's there for you. Your part is to bow your heart in prayer and let the Spirit give it. God has a consistency for you. He has courage for you. He has confidence for you. All the fuel you need is there with Him. Are you ready to ask Him for it?