love letters

“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”  1 Peter 1:8-9

When I was in college, I fell in love.

The man I would eventually marry was a student at the University of Connecticut. I was a student at Texas A&M. The semesters we spent apart seemed long because the love of my life was 1,786 miles away.

No one was emailing, much less text messaging. There were phone calls, but they were expensive, 15 cents a minute is a lot for poor college kids. What we had instead were actual love letters. These letters on a page spelled out words that relayed a story of love—literal love letters. He took the time to consider me, my feelings, to relay his own. He let me know his plans and his thoughts about the future, our future.

Checking my university mail box was an essential part of my day. It informed how my day went. If it was a letter day, if I heard that I was loved and thought of and cared for, things were oh-so -good.

If it was not a letter day, I would survive but I would also wonder if he had thought of me that day. I wonder how much he cares, if it meant anything that he’d skipped a day on letters. The distance hurt more when our communication lagged.

We had letters. We had plans. Now we’ve had 22 years of marriage, five kids, 12 homes. We now can look one another in the face and speak the words we want to say and when we are apart there is texting and emailing and cheaper phone calls. Our relationship is more than enhanced by our communication. It is dependent upon it. Our words to one another keep our relationship alive. The events of my life are not fully lived until they have been shared with my husband. They seem fictional until he knows about it. The reality of making choices, moving ahead only happens when he has spoken and responded.

I am thankful to have this kind of relationship. As deep as it is, it is only a distant second to the life-sustaining relationship with the God of creation. He has spoken to me, before that, he spoke me into existence. And His word, written and alive, is the one that holds me together.

The incomprehensible, life-giving word of God, the word that has the power to bring the dead back to life cannot be contained. As a writer, the very idea of attempting to capture it—in words no less—is daunting, an impossible task. There is no capturing, no taming of this power, this power that holds all of creation together.

Hebrews 1 makes the power clear:

“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,  having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.”

He upholds the world and all of life by the word of His power. My existence is at His mercy, is only possible because of His word. Consequently the only thing I can do is work within this realm where He has made me, designed me, and given me the words I write to attempt to honor that same Word of life that gives me my own.

God’s greatness is unsearchable in a world where everything is searchable.

Because God is God, when He speaks there is a physical response. Creation has no option but to respond when the Creator is speaking to it. The Word is life. The Word sustains life. The Word came to restore life.

God spoke, we were created. God speaks, we are redeemed. God’s Word alive is a person, the Person. John 1 tells us plainly:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.”

It is no coincidence that John chooses to call Jesus the Word of God. These letters arranged spell out words that reveal the Word, the living Word whose name is Love. Just as Jesus is our life, our resurrection, the written word of God is our life, our directive. It is our direct connection to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

It is our love letter.

The days I wrestle and thrash and doubt the most are likely ones when I have not checked that mailbox, looked inside to find He wrote to me. I survive, but I miss what He has written to me. Doubts are allayed. He reveals His thoughts, His desires, His plans for my future—our future together.

It is relevant in this very moment. Hebrews 4:12-13 “For the word of God is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

On its face, these verses have always struck a certain fear within me. This does not sound like a love letter I think. A piercing sword sounds painful. Naked and exposed are not things I’d like to be. I have heard these verses so many times in so many ways. Yet, I look again.

They are talking about, describing the written word of God. And then there are pronouns for the word of God: His, Him. This written word of God is alive, but how can that be? When God speaks, there is a response in creation. It must be this way. God’s written word is no less powerful. Jesus is the Word of God. Here we find Him. In this verse, on this page, on every page. If we will just look.

He is our love letter.

These verses though, still sound scary. Because of this living Word we do not have to fear. We will survive the piercing of the sword because He was pierced. We can be laid bare before Him because He was naked and exposed for us. This Word discerns our thoughts and intents because He made us, He knows us.

We still feel the sting of separation, the fear of exposure. As exiles waiting to be rescued, we look for encouragement.

So we keep reading.

“Since them we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

There is the encouragement for the moment, the promise for our future together. He has gone ahead. He has made a way.

Though we feel far and long for that face-to-face relationship, we can hold fast to this love letter.

Our lives are made real when we speak with, commune with the Word of God. We gain life, real relationship when we let the Word of God speak His truth and graciously encourage and change us.

We find a life-altering, eternal relationship with the Word of God, in the word of God.

1 Peter 1:23-25. “Since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God for All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever. And this word is the good news that was preached to you.”

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