I read these words from 2 Timothy yesterday:-
“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 the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:6-7)
Or as The Message puts it:-
“And the special gift of ministry you received when I laid hands on you and prayed—keep that ablaze! God doesn't want us to be shy with his gifts, but bold and loving and sensible.”
I suppose there are a lot of people out there who really have no idea what their gift or ministry is.
When someone first identified poetry as one of my gifts I was very quick to dismiss the idea. I wrote short stories not poems. And writing short stories was just a hobby or an interest. I didn’t see it in terms of a gift.
Last Easter I spent the first week of the holidays collecting my Easter poems together, selecting and editing them to make a small booklet. I photocopied a few and gave them out to close friends and family. And then I photocopied a few more as friends and family asked for extra copies to give to their friends. With just days to go to Easter Sunday there wasn’t time to seek a bigger market. Even if there was a bigger market to be exploited, I did not have the faith to chase it down.
Yesterday God reminded me of the poetry book.
“This year we have a few weeks before Easter…more than enough to seek a bigger market.”
We quibbled for a moment on just whose book it was “we” were planning to distribute. God firmly claimed the book as His seeing as He had been the inspiration behind it. However, the line between what was mine and what was His was very blurred, if not altogether non-existent. He conceded that the book was perhaps “ours” as opposed to His or mine. He made it clear that this year we were going beyond friends and family.
Last year I had stood outside the Christian bookshop in town with a dozen copies in a carrier bag but never quite plucked up the courage to go into the shop and thrash out a deal.
This year was different.
I arranged for more than a few to be photocopied and then went round to the Christian bookshop. The last time I had tried to ply my poetry there had been about the time of the Scottish Open Golf competition up at Castle Stuart. The Christian bookshop had a magnificent window display featuring a sailing ship. I had an equally magnificent poem entitled “My ship of Faith”. My poem and their ship seemed destined to be together – but it didn’t happen. The shop manager was on holiday. The poem was tucked under the counter until their return. I suspect it is still there.
The manager was away on holiday.
This time I wasn’t about to let the book get tucked away under the counter. I told the assistant behind the counter about last year and the positive reception of the poetry books among friends and family. I suggested a price for the book if they wished to sell it, and how easy I thought it would be to sell and agreed that I even giving the book was a possibility. I was a little more proactive but not overbearing.
She seemed to think that what I was asking was possible. Although the bookshop is a branch of a national organisation there were always opportunities for local authors.
So…there you go. I fanned into flame the gift of God.
What happens next isn’t entirely out of my hands – there is a return visit to the bookshop and an some kind of selling script to work on. I still have my part to play.
The book and I are in God’s hands.