Pause and Clear by Rocky Fleming
“Hence I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you …"
2 Timothy 1:6 (RSV)
I was on an exercise machine at my physical therapist office when I read the words in the title above, “Pause and Clear,” on the machine. I see a similar message on my computer when an update is made, which is “Reboot.” When my phone acts weird and is out of sorts I’m told to “restart.” When I’m burned out mentally and emotionally, I’m told to “refresh.” When I’m physically tired I’m told to “relax.” These terms are not unfamiliar with our machines or our bodies. But what about our soul? How do we reboot, or refresh our souls? Paul tells us how in his letter to his protégé Timothy. He tells him to “rekindle.” Timothy knew what Paul was speaking of but many of you do not, for most of our fires are simply turned on rather than made from kindling. Therefore, let me give you a lesson about restarting a dying fire if you do not already know it, for that is the visualization that Timothy would have had with Paul’s admonition.
A fire in Timothy’s day would have been started with kindling, which is some kind of quick burning wood or material. That kind of wood doesn’t last very long for it burns out too quickly. Therefore, slower burning wood would be added to it at the right time and when the first fire is hottest. Then the fire would sustain until the slow burning wood runs out and only glowing embers would remain for a while. To stoke a dying fire up again requires that it be rekindled with fresh hot burning wood before adding the slower burning wood to it or else it would snuff it out. I learned this from maintaining my grandmother’s fireplaces, which was the only way she got heat in the cold of winters. I hope this helps us understand Paul’s instruction to Timothy better, for where I really want to go with this is not about fire building but soul protection, for that was what Paul was concerned with. It’s about a return of Timothy’s passion for ministry by going back to the source of it to find it again.
In the same way that the rekindling of the first fire is needed to rebuild a dying fire, our first love with Christ must be rekindled to restore our passion for Him and our purpose. Paul was speaking to Timothy about going back and finding this. It is more important to do this than just trudging along with doing ministry without a heart for it. It is about Timothy answering the “why question” of why he does what he does to find the next step in re-finding his vision and passion. That is where rekindling begins. It starts with restoring our perspective by recognizing God’s first love to us through Christ, and our returned love to Him. It is this love connection that has been disconnected and it must be rekindled before we can go any further.
There are a multitude of reasons why Paul could have given Timothy this instruction. Timothy may have had a large ministry load on him, and he needed to be refreshed? He may have been going through burn-out. He may have been discouraged. He may have been lonely in ministry and he was losing his passion for it. I think many pastors and ministry leaders go through the same challenges, for ministry is very demanding on our souls, even though it is the greatest privilege we can be given by being entrusted with the spiritual nurturing of God’s family. It is a serious endeavor though, for it takes a lot out of us. Many of us might not see the neglect we may be giving our souls until we see things falling apart. It is often hidden from our recognition of it. We can hide issues behind what looks like good P.R. rather than see what the problem and the solution is. As long as we look the part, we are the part. Right? Wrong!!
The problem with soul neglect is that it will eventually come to the surface as surely as being right with God also works its way to the surface of our life. In some cases, it might be too late to repair the hurts and neglect of relationships and poor choices we made when we’re hiding out behind a mask that conceals this neglect. All the more reason why we need friends and confidants who watch over our souls and we welcome truth to be spoken to us. All the more reason that we do as Paul suggested to Timothy, which is to rekindle our love connection with Christ again, and it be our highest priority.
I think of the thousands of family relationships we’ve seen or have read about that have been restored by simply rekindling our love connection with Christ. Abiding in Him does this. I think of the many people who feel alone in their struggles, especially pastors and ministry leaders. I think of the many men and women who walk around with a hidden sense of quiet desperation clinging to them. This is going on all the time around the world. But what a shame it is that it goes on in the life of a Christian, for it doesn’t have to. In fact, it must not, for we are chosen to represent our King’s love by what we are receiving of it ourselves. That is where our fire begins and welcomes others to warm beside it. They see it and want it for themselves and we show them how to find it.
If you have identified any of the hidden symptoms I’ve mentioned, don’t you think it is time that you rekindle your fire again? Don’t let your fire go out. Get time … make time … to get alone with the Lover of your soul and allow Him to restore what has been missing. We need your fire again and He deserves it.