I’m reminded this morning of the relationship between the divine and the determined. That God’s sovereign will has been intertwined with man’s simple ways . . . that God’s eternal purposes have been linked to man’s earthly powers . . . that while God will act, He does so through those who are available.
It came up repeatedly this morning as I continued reading in Nehemiah. Here are some examples . . . God had put it into the heart of Nehemiah to rebuild the walls at Jerusalem (Neh. 2:11) . . . but “the people had a mind to work” (4:6). When opposing forces gathered to fight against Jerusalem and disrupt the rebuilding project, “we prayed to our God AND set a guard as protection” (4:9, emphasis added) . . . Nehemiah encouraged the people to “remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, AND fight for your brothers” (4:14, emphasis added again) . . . and, while Nehemiah believed with all his heart that “our God will fight for us,” he also called the people to rally, with sword in hand, when they heard the sound of the trumpet (4:20).
God’s work . . . the peoples willingness to engage in it. God as architect . . . the returned remnant, the laborers. God the Commander-in-Chief of the army, wanna be wall-builders enlisted as His army. And as this was running through my mind, I encountered the following in another of my readings this morning . . . boy was I set up . . .
For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands . . . (2Timothy 1:6 ESV)
As our congregation has been reminded repeatedly from the pulpit over the last several months, though the Scriptures may have been written to someone else, they were written for us. And so, when I come to the first part of Paul’s second letter to Timothy and come across this charge to the young man of God, I can’t help but apply it to myself. And, apply it in the context of what I’ve just read in Nehemiah . . . God’s gifting . . . my fanning into flame.
That God, through the Spirit, gifts His children as He determines, is clearly taught in Scripture. Grace has been given to each one of us as Christ has apportioned it (Eph. 4:7) . . . each believer has been given “the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” and they have been gifted for service in the body by “the one and same Spirit” who distributes gifts to everyone as He determines (1Cor. 12:4-7, 11). But, while the Triune God is the Determiner and the Giver of these giftings, I am to be actively engaged in fanning into flame the spark which God has set.
The King James translates it, “stir up the the gift of God which is in you.” Not as in stirring up a cake mix . . . but as in stirring up embers in a fire that are in need of re-kindling that they might burst again into flame, producing a productive heat rather than just a warm glow.
I am not the source of any gifting, but I am to be a steward. I can’t, in and of myself, generate any power, but the power within me will not be unleashed without my cooperation. The wall won’t be rebuilt because of who I am or what I can do . . . the battle won’t be won because of my strength and strategy . . . God is the builder of the wall . . . the battle belongs to the Lord. But, in His Sovereign determination, He has enlisted me to work on a part of the wall . . . He has drafted me to fight the fight in selected battles . . . and mine is to purpose with a willing heart to engage in the building . . . mine is to freely offer my feeble efforts in the fight . . . that He might, through me, accomplish His purposes.
Fan into the flame . . . the all-sufficient grace bestowed . . . the faltering faith seeded . . . the gifting which has been given . . . all for His glory. Amen?