Time For God: May 3

Written by Paul Beckingham

Focus: 2 Timothy 1:6
Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.
I see him now—Bandmaster Jack—though many years have marked his passing. Bandmaster Jack has a reputation—he is tough! The kids in the Junior Brass Band know it. He watches them hawkishly, ready to pounce on each unwary dilettante.

With a flourish he lifts his baton. An invisible force hoists trombones and trumpets, baritones and tubas to meet pursed lips. Coordinated gasps—snatched breaths—anticipate his baton’s next move. It descends like the crack of a starting pistol; the race is on! Junior musicians compete to be the first to reach the finale. All nuances of staying together—keeping time to the music—must wait for a future practice. Enthusiastic notes play loudly as if marked molto allgro e sempre staccato, cheerfully fast and always with staccato!

As Bandmaster Jack insists, Practice does not make perfect; only perfect practice makes perfect. Another of his oft-quoted truisms motivates musicians through old fashioned fear, Miss one day’s practice and you will hear the difference; miss two days and the rest of the band can hear it; miss three and the whole world knows it!

His baton and his voice are both etched in childhood memories. My brother and I walked the length the garden to practice in the shed. Standing beside our pet mouse’s cage. He spun wildly in his wheel; we strained to perfect our wobbly tone.

A popular proposition declares it takes 10,000 practice hours to attain excellence in a skill. Bandmaster Jack, it seemed, crammed all of those hours into each practice. Juniors left each band-practice exhausted. Bright red rings circled our lips; they marked where mouthpieces attempted to squeeze out yet another note. Lips sagged down below our knees; we lifted weary feet to avoid tripping over them.

The Apostle Paul is kinder than Bandmaster Jack. He does not goad, bully, or cajole. Paul is an encourager. He builds up Timothy in the faith. He urges him to stir up the gift of God. Prophecy, teaching, exhortation (encouragement), serving, giving, mercy, leadership (administration), and wisdom are spiritual gifts. Stir yours to act today.

What are your spiritual gifts? How has the community of faith endorsed them? How have you exercised them to bless others? How can you stir them within you today?

Lord God, Giver of all good gifts, my confidence lies neither in my natural strength nor my frail human abilities. I look, instead, to You. I thank You for every spiritual gift that you bestow and stir within me. Enable me to be a soul in motion graciously reaching out to others with the gift of the Saviour’s love on this day in history. Amen.