“…I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God…” 2 Timothy 1:6

While we were home on holiday, I looked through my old collection of football cards, still languishing in my parents’ basement. As I flipped through the box, I found a 1990 card of Steve Young, quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. I flipped the card over, and the brief evaluation made me smile: the card referred to Young as a “valuable backup quarterback.” I’m sure I could have found dozens of other cards with similar descriptions of players whose names I have long forgotten.

So why did I smile? Because here in my hand was the last Steve Young card before he got his chance to really get in the game. For several years he had been the backup for the legendary Joe Montana. But in 1991 Montana was unable to play because of an injury, and Young stepped in as his replacement. In his 8th season as a professional, here was his chance to get in the game.

Steve Young went on to become a football legend himself. In the years that followed, Young would win Super Bowls and twice be named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player. Eventually he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and he is routinely named on lists of the best quarterbacks of all time.

What did it take for Young’s value to come to light? He needed to get in the game, to be given a chance to use the gifts that had been there all along.

As I sat at my parents’ dining room table looking at that football card, I wondered how many Christians see themselves as no more than God’s “backup players.” How many people don’t recognize that God has gifted each one of us and invites us to “get in the game.” Unlike the story of Steve Young, we don’t have to wait for someone else to be sidelined for God to put us to use. We are called to “fan into flame the gift of God,” just as Paul encouraged Timothy to do in his letter.

What’s holding you back from getting in the game? Fan into flame the gift of God. Let him use you for his purposes. God’s church and mission will flourish as a result, and you will begin to discover your true value in God’s eyes.