At some point in our lives, the excitement we once had about God dwindles. The assurance we had about our calling and purpose in life is shaken. What once were flames of passionate worship, fiery confidence, and a burning sense of purpose are extinguished and we are left wondering how to rekindle these gifts we once had.
As I read 2 Timothy 1:1-14, I was reminded of the gifts of relationship, calling, and purpose that God has granted me. I was reminded of the wonder, joy, and love I first felt as I realized I could have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Most relationships start with attraction and infatuation. Then, as they grow, relationships experience struggles, slumps, and challenges.
As a child, I fell in love with being in love with God. I longed to spend time in church. I was attracted to the things of God, found joy in the beauty of the hymns, and comfort in the sacraments of baptism and communion. I was thrilled to learn of the things of God.
My relationship with God grew, as did the assurance of my salvation and growing confidence in my calling as a pastor. I gladly received and flourished in God’s gift of purpose as a faithful child of God and disciple of Jesus Christ.
As the struggles of life grew, I sometimes allowed the darkness of the world to throw water on the flames of my love for God. What confidence I had in my initial calling had diminished because of the imperfections I saw in myself as well as other challenges.
There was a point in our lives at which most of us began a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. You may have been born into the church and made the decision to confirm your faith in God as a teenager. Or, perhaps you came to God later. But, at some point, you began a relationship with God that was fresh. The fire was new. The songs and sacraments were new. Then troubles and challenges came and chipped away at your relationship with God.
There was a time you were assured of your calling and purpose as a child of God. Then, life happened and now you find yourself lost, confused, and shaken. So you seek ways to rekindle those things that were lost.
We fail at finding the solutions we need because we turn inward and not upward. We get distracted, discouraged, and disheartened. We give up and give in to mediocracy in our worship and our lives. We half-heartedly worship and slug along with life, just happy to make it through another day.
We certainly do not want to come to our end face to face with God and hear the words of Revelation 2:4, “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.”
A close, joyful and satisfying relationship with God can be yours.
A powerful life of confidence purpose and hope can be yours.
How do we find that which has been lost? Where do we start and where do we find the answer?
We get a strong clue in Paul’s first line of his second letter to Timothy, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, for the sake of the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim.1:1 NRSV).
In this first line, we see how Paul was assured of both his purpose and relationship with God. Because of his strong faith in God, he retained his determination to live according to God’s will. Because of his faith in Jesus Christ, his relationship with God remained in full flame. Where else can “the promise of life” be rekindled but by the grace of and our faith in Christ Jesus?
By our faith in Christ, we not only find the ability to rekindle our hope for a promise of eternal life in the hereafter but the promise of life in the here and now! In Jesus’ life and resurrection, we see that the flame God has placed within can last forever and burn bright now.
The gifts God has given have to be rekindled.
It is the renewed realization of God’s gracious presence in our lives that rekindles our love and zeal for Christ. It is faith in a resurrected Savior that rekindles our purpose. Renewed realization and faith are the gasoline that rekindles these gifts of relationship, calling, and purpose that God so graciously gives.
In any relationship, love’s flame is kindled and rekindled by choice, not by anything as fickle as feelings. The more we kindle the flame of love, the hotter the fire and the longer it burns.
It is the remembrance of why we answered the call that rekindles our calling and purpose. We saw a need and realized the gifts God gave us to fill it. We heard the cries of the needy and answered the call to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ. No matter what profession we chose, we did so as children of God and as disciples of Jesus Christ. Even in retirement, God’s gifts of calling and purpose can be rekindled.
When the fire of our relationship with God is smothered by the distractions and temptations around us, our spirits weaken, and we lose our hope. We lose our passion for the things of God and our distance is reflected in our worship. It is in times like these when the gifts God has given have to be rekindled.
When the passion for our calling and purpose as children of God and disciples of Jesus Christ is quenched, we lose sight of our place in this world. We lose sight of our calling and forget why we go on and why we serve. Without passion, vision, and sight, apathy takes hold and we stumble blindly about our lives and stop caring about what God wants us to do next. It is in times like these when the gifts God has given have to be rekindled.
The flame of relationship with God was once lit in our lives. The embers still burn but we have to take action before the fire goes out. We can start small with just a prayer for help to rekindle the fire. Then, we can take bigger steps, like getting back to church, opening our mouths and lifting our voices to sing the songs of God, ensuring that we, our children and grandchildren are baptized, and remembering our Lord Jesus Christ regularly by taking part in corporate communion.
We were once passionate about our calling and purpose as children of God and disciples of Jesus Christ. Whether or not you feel it, there is still a spark but it’s up to you to fan the flames and rekindle the gift. Ask God for renewed passion. Seek God for clarity of purpose. Open your eyes and ears to the needs around you.
A spark that is rekindled becomes a raging fire. You can be certain that the more you rekindle the gifts God has given, the hotter the flame will become. Your relationship with God will grow closer. Your calling and purpose will regain their clarity and excitement. You will be a light burning bright in a dark and dreary world because the gifts God has given have been rekindled.
As we share together in holy communion, now is your opportunity to begin rekindling your gifts of relationship with God, calling, and purpose. The ushers will direct you from the back center. As you draw nearer the table of communion, imagine yourself drawing closer to God. As you open your hands to receive the body of Christ, invite the fire of love for God to burn brighter within. Let the reminder of Jesus’ blood shed for you and for the world reignite your passion to grow in Christ, proclaim the Word, and serve others. Spend time in prayer. Repent, forgive, renew, receive, and rekindle.
Scripture Reference: 2 Timothy 1:1-14.