“You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. 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 Corinthians 3:2-3
Sifting through tubs of old photos in preparation for her mother’s 90th birthday, she discovered a stack of letters tied with a faded pink ribbon written almost 100 years ago. Carefully untying the ribbon, she gently lifts the crackling paper from the first envelope and begins to read. Addressed to her grandmother, beautiful copperplate script fills each page, and long before the signature’s confirmation, she recognizes the author of the letters as her grandfather. Etched onto onion-skin parchment with the fine nib of a fountain pen is her grandfather’s charm, wit, honesty, and integrity. These yellowed pages tell the story of her grandparent’s courtship and growing love for one another. They also reveal the depth of her grandfather’s faith, his love for Jesus and dependence on God’s Word.
Her grandfather had no idea when he wrote these letters that someday his granddaughter, now a grandmother herself, would read them and lose herself in memories of the legacy entrusted to her. Her thoughts drifted to languid summer days, cool glasses of fresh lemonade, and begging her grandparents for just one more story of growing up during the era of World War I. Her grandma was matter of fact in her tales, but her grandpa wove stories with gossamer threads that shimmered with light and life, mingling favorite passages of Scripture into each story. It was that same light and life vividly transparent in the words scrawled across the pages on her lap. Her grandfather’s raw vulnerability brought tears to her eyes:
I hesitate to write tonight, fearful you will see my ramblings as frailty and turn away, but I cannot help but tell you the truth of me. You, so strong and beautiful, so filled with laughter, must know what kind of man I am. I read the words of St. Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians this morning, and they have echoed through me all day. “Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men.” My life is an epistle, a letter from Almighty God, known and read by everyone. And that terrifies me.
O dear one, I fear what kind of letter my life must show. It breaks me to think that people I may never meet again read this letter. It breaks me even more to know that you read it. I fear this letter contains more selfishness than loving service, more pride than humility, more anger than kindness, more impatience than love, more me than Jesus. I fear it is more a letter I am writing than a letter from my dear Lord. How much of this letter must be He censor? I long for my life to reflect His goodness and His mercy and His grace. I want His signature on this letter to be clearly visible to all, especially visible to you, dear one.
He reminds me, even as I write these things to you, that He is the one holding the pen. It is His Spirit who is the author of His story inscribed on my heart, a heart redeemed by His sacrifice, a heart transformed by His love. Too often, that which I want to do, I don’t do and what I don’t want to do, I do. But I know He is at work. Can you read this in my life? Oh, how I pray that you can and that you will write to me again in care of the depot whose address I will enclose . . .
The man her grandfather described was not the man she knew. The grandfather she knew was giving and generous of his time and his talents and his money, sacrificially and quietly serving others without acknowledgment or praise. He was patient and loving, and she never heard a cross or unkind word come from his mouth. The God he loved and served faithfully had clearly written the letter of her grandfather’s life. She remembered then him telling her that Jesus wrote the greatest love letter ever written just for him, and Jesus would write that same letter just for her if she’d let Him. She hadn’t understood then, but she now recognized how God used His living letter in her grandfather to draw her to the saving knowledge of Jesus.
Wiping her eyes and tying the pink ribbon around the stack of letters again, she thought about the lost practice of letter writing. She thought about her own life. She thought about her children and her grandchildren. She thought about the letter the Holy Spirit was penning on her heart. Would His signature be visible? Would His love and grace and mercy be evident?
Bowing her head, she prayed, “Lord, thank You for the love letter You wrote on my grandfather’s life. I know You are still holding the pen, and it is Your Spirit beautifully inscribing Your letter on my heart, the greatest love letter ever written. Please censor out anything of me, I pray, so that everyone I meet, from family to strangers, will read about You in the living letter of my life. I pray this legacy of the greatest love letter ever written would continue in the lives of those who come after me showing that they, too, are a letter from Christ. Amen.
Then she pulled out some discarded stationary and began to write letter to each of her children and her grandchildren.
- What letter is God writing in your life?
- What areas need the censoring pen?
- Who can you write a letter to today?