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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Fire-fighter (10/05/06)

TITLE: To fan or to fight - that is the question
By Suzanne R


Dear Uncle Paul,

Thank you so much for your letter. That you addressed me as Ďdear soní moves me to tears. I am honoured.

Uncle Ö Father Ö can I open my heart to you? We can talk more when I join you in the autumn. But want to raise the issue now because I know my courage will fail me when Iím with you.

You have such high hopes for me. I want to make you proud. But even the great prophet Moses struggled sometimes. I do too.

Didnít Moses question Godís commission at first? Even after Jehovah incredibly spoke from the burning bush? Even when the ĎI amí revealed His name? God understood Mosesí weaknesses and so gave him a partner in Aaron. Together, they succeeded.

I, however, am truly alone and inadequate. Mum and Grandma help a bit, but thereís a lot in this job that is confidential. You know that.

In your letter, you told me to fan into flame the gift of God, which I was given when you laid hands on me that day (1). God knows Iíve tried. But subconsciously, it seems Iím doing everything possible to fight the flame. The Ďold meí fights the flame while the Ďnew meí fans it. To think that the fire-fighting part of me might win makes my stomach churn.

Itís not like I deliberately set out to fight the flame. Honestly. But on any sort of personality quiz, Iím shown to be introverted, cautious, pessimistic, unwilling to embrace change. Iím not like you. God made me this way. Surely He has called me to be a hermit? Or maybe to establish a religious order where people hardly talk? You often remind me that God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, love and self-discipline (2). Yet itís impossible to be who Iím not.

Iím not afraid of hard work. You suggested I should consider the examples of disciplined soldiers, champion athletes and farmers. The Almighty knows that Iíd happily live the focused disciplined life of any of them. In fact, Iíd like nothing better than to obey a commanding officer instead of having to lead. Hard work is fine. But teaching? Confronting men older than myself? Guiding many difficult people? Making the most of every opportunity to loudly and proudly declare my faith?

I canít.

You told me to Ďrefrain from godless chatterí. Thatís no problem. Itís the Ďgodly speechí that scares me. I canít even get the words out straight anymore. I suppose Moses was like that too, now I think about it.

Uncle Paul, please reconsider. Your specific command frightens me so badly that simply thinking of the words makes me nauseous. Do remember what you said?

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of His appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word, be prepared in season and out of season, correct, rebuke and encourage Ė with great patience and careful instruction. (3)

You must remember that stress causes my stomach to become inflamed. You were so kind to me when I was sick as a boy during your visits. You treated me so gently Ė so lovingly. Have pity on me now.

Here is the bottom line. The job is too big and Iím just not capable of it.

Iím a liability to the church and an embarrassment to my family. There are others who can do a better job - tell them to do it.

I beg you. Release me from this role.

As you requested, Iíll be there before the winter with your cloak and scrolls. But perhaps after receiving this letter, you wonít want to see me. If so, do send a messenger to intercept me en route and collect your belongings.

I guess you wonít want me calling you ĎFatherí anymore either. I quite understand.



Timothy, my dearest son,

Moses recognized who was behind Ďhisí fire, and obeyed. Like it or not, that same fire burns in you. Moses never found his calling easy, but he became one of the greatest leaders in history.

Godís call on your life is clear. Accept it.

You are a gentle sensitive man. Iím as sensitive as a bull. God calls you to live to YOUR full potential Ė not mine. Focus on Him, not yourself, nor your so-called inadequacies.

Quit fighting the fire. FAN THAT FLAME.

Your Dad,


(1) 2 Timothy 1:6
(2) 2 Timothy 1:7 NIV
(3) 2 Timothy 3:1-2 NIV

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This article has been read 1309 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Rebecca Livermore10/12/06
This is a beautiful picture of what the relationship between Paul and Timothy may have been like. It made me think about two things -- one was my own feelings of inadequacy and that in spite of that God created me the way He did for a purpose. The other was a reminder of how we can encourage those who are younger in faith than we are. Thanks for sharing!
Val Clark10/12/06
I love the way you have penetrated the received wisdom and traditions of our understanding of these two characters and found something new and refreshing about them and their relationship. This was a delightful read.
Donna Powers 10/16/06
An excellent character study. I enjoyed reading this very much. Well done!
Pat Guy 10/17/06
But on any sort of personality quiz, Iím shown to be introverted, cautious, pessimistic, unwilling to embrace change. Iím not like you. God made me this way. Surely He has called me to be a hermit? Or maybe to establish a religious order where people hardly talk? (don't know why - but this is my favorite part!) ;)

(And Mum?) - a dead give-away! ;)

I love the layers of this piece - the many messages all the way through and the great writing.


Sharlyn Guthrie10/17/06
You made Timothy come alive for me. Writing in the form of a letter was such an insightful method. Great job!
Joanne Sher 10/18/06
This is WONDERFUL - what a unique take on the topic - and an unique medium! This makes me relate to Timothy even more! Great piece!
Catrina Bradley 10/19/06
Wow, this is awesome! I love the "letter" style, very original. This really spoke to my heart, thanks for writing it and pointing me to it.