Saturday, September 17, 2016

The Letter

In these days of fast food, on-demand relationships and lightning quick communication, it's hard to believe that an old-fashioned letter could have much of an impact. But this week I was reminded that the simplest things in life can sometimes carry the most meaning.

I have a young friend. She's an interesting young lady. A former youth group kid when I was a youth leader, my young friend is an artist. She and her boyfriend (also an artist) have tried to simplify their lives recently by eliminating the "baggage" that weighs them down. Admirable, and rare, in today's world.

One of the things my friend eliminated was Facebook. Again, admirable, but sadly Facebook has become one of the few means we have of keeping in touch with one another these days. So, in order to keep our friendship active and alive I wrote my friend a letter. She replied. We have been trading letters for a while now but recently her letters have stopped. That's where self-examination and imagination began to take over. There was no communication. I began to doubt and to question.

Did I say or do something to make my friend mad? Did my last letter get lost in the mail? Did my friend get into a car accident? Maybe she is unable to write! Did she and her boyfriend move back to Colorado? Did they break up? Have I lost a friend? Our imagination can really run wild, swimming in an endless sea of possibilities, if we let it.

Communication from God can be like that. He has written 66 letters for us to read and re-read. But when was the last time He wrote us? 2,000 years ago? That's a long time. Our human imaginations can run wild. Does God really love us anymore? Is He still out there? Is He alive? Is He real? Doubt can creep in where certainty once reigned.

Two days ago I got a letter in the mail from my friend. I stared at it for a while - the doubt still in my head. What would it say? What bad news was awaiting me inside the envelope? There was a hesitation in opening it. Still, some questions had been answered simply by the fact the letter had arrived.

My friend WAS alive! The return address told me she was still near! But there was still that doubt about our relationship. Were things still good? Were we still friends? All those doubts were put to rest by doing something rather simple and obvious. I opened the letter, and I read it.

When was the last time we read God's letters to us? When was the last time we were reminded how much God loves us and cares for us? When was the last time we have clung to the truths in God's Word as our only hope? And, equally as important, when have WE written back?

We can't actually write letters to God and expect to receive a reply in the mail, but we can pray. We can speak to God and He has promised that He WILL hear us (1 John 5:14). We can also live our lives FOR Him, in thanks for all He has given us and written to us in the past. Serving others and living a transformed life are excellent ways to communicate our love for the Father.

When I didn't hear from my friend for a while I began to wonder about the state of things, but as soon as I received that letter, I was reminded that everything was just fine. There was nothing to fear. The same thing applies to our communication with God. We must keep the channels open!

I'd like to close by sharing a few sentences from my young friend's letter. One could almost read these words and imagine a similar message coming from God to those of us who have not heard from Him in our lives for a while.

"Please, don't let me not writing sooner make you believe I haven't been thinking about you. I feel overwhelmed with the amount of things I could share with you."

Letters from someone we care about can have an amazing effect on us. They can suddenly lift us up and encourage us. The following is the opening paragraphs of a letter received by the Philippian church from someone THEY cared about - the Apostle Paul.

"I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ - to the glory and praise of God." - Philippians 1:3-11

How would you feel after receiving THAT letter? Encouraged? When was the last time YOU wrote somebody a letter? When was the last time you read HIS?

And finally, a quote for my young friend . . .

“Susie, what shall I do - there isn't room enough; not half enough, to hold what I was going to say. Wont you tell the man who makes sheets of paper, that I haven't the slightest respect for him!” - Emily Dickinson

Letters To God Theatrical Trailer
Paul's Letter to The Philippians

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