God Wants You To Open the Gift March 8, 2023 by Abby McDonald
"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, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control." 2 Timothy 1:6-7 (ESV)
For months, the box sat in our basement, unopened and collecting dust. At the time, it was just something else to organize. Until my son discovered it. "Mama, guess what I found?" he said.
He led me downstairs and showed me the numerous photos and pieces of memorabilia from my childhood which my parents had brought during their last visit to my house. As I studied my son's smile, I realized that to him, this box was a treasure. Together, we combed through the contents, countless memories coming back to me in an instant. At first, I had seen the box as an inconvenience. But the more time I spent looking through it, the more I realized this collection was a gift. I remembered moments I might have forgotten otherwise. The box's contents reminded me of the difficult seasons God strengthened me through and how He empowered me at times when I was afraid to respond to His prompting in faith. It also reminded me of the way I treat some of the gifts God gives me. He gives me the gift of His Spirit, but do I really believe He can do what Scripture says?
Sometimes I read accounts of miracles the disciples performed and think, Yeah, but they had just seen Jesus. They had the benefit of firsthand interaction. And God gently reminds me, But you have the same Spirit in you. In Paul's letter to Timothy, I sense the urgency in Paul's words as he told Timothy about the gift God gives each believer: "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, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control" (2 Timothy 1:6-7).
The beauty of these words is that they're not simply for a believer who lived thousands of years ago; they're for each of us today. They're truth to help us get out of our own way. In other words, wipe the dust off the box, and open the gift. But what does opening this gift look like in everyday life?
For the mom who has young children or someone who works a nine-to-five job, how do we live like we believe this passage?
As I dig into God's Word, He is teaching me:
When we receive prompting from God and it lines up with His Word, we can act in faith without repeated confirmation. (James 2:14) The power of the Spirit in me is activated when I step out in faith before I know what the outcome will be, not after. (Hebrews 11:1) God's power is displayed in me and through me even when my acts of faith bring different results than I envisioned. (Ephesians 3:20)
After I looked through the contents of the long-forgotten box, God prompted me to take a step of faith. I made a doctor's appointment I'd been putting off for months, hoping the chronic pain I was experiencing would go away. Although I feared an unwelcome diagnosis, those fresh memories helped me recall all the struggles God had walked through with me in the past. God didn't abandon me then, and I knew He was with me as I scheduled the appointment. My friend, He is with you too.
"Don't worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7 (CSB)
Last night was a rough one. Our sweet little David who has Down syndrome and other medical complexities was up until 12:30 a.m. with really uncomfortable reflux. His crying woke up our other toddler, Kierstyn, who struggled to go back to sleep. And then our baby, Micah, was also up a few times to nurse. My husband, Jesse, needed to be out the door at 5:50 a.m. to take Kaitlynn, one of our teens, to her ice skating lessons before school. Next thing I knew, both toddlers and our baby woke up and two of them were not in the most cheerful mood. Kierstyn wanted breakfast. Baby Micah wanted to nurse. David needed his morning thyroid medicine and his morning feeding through his G-tube. Our other two teens were now up and getting ready for school, and I wanted to check in and be available for them. I had two choices: I could feel frustrated, or I could start my day by acknowledging that I couldn't do this in my own strength, asking the Lord for the supernatural strength I needed to get through the day. I could focus on all my problems, or I could focus on God's promises. With a weary heart and body, I prayed: God, please multiply the sleep I was able to get last night. I'm going to trust that You are going before me today. I'm trusting You to show up in powerful ways on my behalf because Your Word says when I am weak, then I am strong in You. (2 Corinthians 12:10)
Instead of feeling exhausted, I actually went through the day excited that I was going to see God show up and be faithful. And guess what? It was a great day! It's so easy to feel overwhelmed, discouraged or stressed as we go about our days. I challenge you to start seeing those feelings as little red flags to remind you to stop and send up what I call a quick "Flare Prayer" a short, in-the-moment, SOS prayer crying out to God for help, wisdom, direction, energy, strength or whatever you need in that moment. You can pray with boldness, as Philippians 4:6-7 says: "in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."
When you get that message that discourages you, stop and pray. When your husband is having a rough day, stop and pray. When your co-worker is frustrating you, stop and pray. When you need to have a hard conversation, stop and pray. When your toddler is getting on your very last nerve, stop and pray. When your sleep is interrupted yet again, stop and pray. When your friend is struggling and you don't know how to help, stop and pray. When your teen is going through a difficult time, stop and pray.
Ask God to multiply your sleep on the nights when you are up every hour with a sick child. Ask God to multiply your time when you have five unexpected interruptions back to back and you already have a very full plate. Ask God to multiply your energy when you feel tired and worn down. Ask God to multiply your inspiration when you are feeling drained. He knows. He cares. He is enough. And He is longing for you to stop striving and start resting. You don't have to do things in your own strength. You don't have to carry your burdens on your own.