I take note throughout the year of things I love and appreciate about each person. I pray for them, and try to be aware of how God is working in their lives.
The commitment to write these letters has been challenging in several ways. They remind me to be in real relationship and communication with those I love... how else will I have specifics to write about? I don't ever want these to become generic "you are special" kind of letters. Each year already seems shorter and busier, and paying attention and not missing moments that really count takes effort. Sad, but true.
They make me think. Really stop and think. Why do I love and appreciate this person? How have they been a blessing to me? How can I encourage them in their relationship with God? If one of us was called home to be with our Lord tomorrow, what would I wish I had said?
It makes me cry. It's surprising how long we can go without truly saying "I love and appreciate you because ... " to those we treasure so much. And the because matters. The "because" can sometimes be surprisingly difficult to write at different points in certain relationships. The specific appreciation and praising in some strange way makes me feel vulnerable to whoever I may be struggling with. It sheds light on grievances or offenses I silently hadn't let go. Writing the love letters breaks down walls in me I didn't even know were there. It helps break down the lies, bitterness, unforgiveness and pride that are tucked away in my deceitful heart and frees me to speak the truth " I love you because...".
Though tomorrow is not guaranteed, we forget that we are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
I want to be a refreshing mist.
"Like cold water to a weary soul is good news to a distant land."
We can be islands unto ourselves. Even from those we live with. Especially from those we live with. The "distant land" I may need to send good news to is often sitting across from me at the dinner table.
Maybe these are some reasons that when I receive a letter or note it is so cherished. I have always felt that way. I love written love!
I think Jesus does too. He is such a personal God, he speaks to us so intimately, using the most endearing terms in our language to communicate His affection to our deaf hearts. His letter to us is unrushed and detailed, telling us all that we need to know about His love for us. If we go home to Him tomorrow, those are the things He wanted said and read.
But it can be hard to hear Him. And it can be hard to read His letter.
So He gives us another kind of letter.
"You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts."
~2 Cor. 3:3
He gives us each other.
You are His Letter.
I am too.
What kind of letter am I? Who am I a letter to? What do I communicate about Christ to others through my life?
He is Love. Would they say I am patient or kind? That I am not easily angered, that I keep no record of wrongs?
He is Truth. Do I help them recognize His voice? Do I speak Truth, or do I let other things dominate my words?
He is Hope. Do I even get near enough to the lost, the lonely, the wounded, the dying, for them to even have a chance to read His letter that He has written on my heart?
And what Letters are God sending my way? What is He writing to me through those all around me who know, love, and follow Him? Could I be brave enough to listen to them? To Him?
He created some amazing, heart-pounding, knee-bending, Spirit-crafted Letters.
I know. I get to live with some of them.
I give them my letters, but do I give them His? Do I tell them how much He loves them enough? Do I tell them why?
"This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him."
~1 John 4:9
"I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."
~ John 10:10
The Word Who became flesh, dwelt among us, and died for us so that we might have full life. The greatest Love Letter ever written.