How many texts do you get a day? I just scrolled through mine, and even with nothing on my calendar, there are quite a few daily threads. It is such an efficient way to communicate and I am grateful for how it allows checking in with friends near and far. But, don’t you miss good old-fashioned letter writing? My dad wrote to me pretty faithfully when I went away to college, and my husband and I wrote many letters during the long-distance periods of dating. But I hardly ever get a letter anymore. Oddly, this week, without any special occasion, I received three handwritten notes in the mail, two of which were from teenagers to whom I am not related, one girl, one boy. Teenagers writing thoughtful, handwritten notes in the year 2020. What a hopeful sign!
Last week I quoted Elisabeth Elliot in my blog which prompted me to flip through The Shaping of a Christian Family. In the book, “Betty,” as my 93 year-old friend/trainer knew her, talks about the legacy of letter writing within her family.
Of the tangible legacies my parents left us, nothing seems to me more remarkable than their letters—both the number and the content…Mother began to write to Phil and me twice a week in 1941 when we went away to school. I am sure there was never a week in her life from September of 1941 until she began to lose her mental powers in the mid-1980’s that she did not write to her children.Elisabeth Elliot
When Jim Elliot was killed, Elisabeth’s mother sent a string of letters. One letter contained these words:
Bets, my darling, perhaps even TODAY you will be with your dear one! May the hope of His coming be wonderfully precious and strengthening to us all. I can only say with Job, “The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away — BLESSED BE THE NAME OF THE LORD.” He has promised that we “shall know hereafter” what He is doing, but till then let us “love Him, trust Him, praise Him”…Katharine Gillingham Howard (Elisabeth’s mother)
Can you imagine reading that letter after your husband of only two years had just been murdered? Mrs. Howard was clearly heartbroken for her daughter but she did not shy away from pointing her darling “Bets” to the truth. I wonder if this too is a lost art? I think maybe it is.
And as it happens my wonderful firstborn son came in my bedroom just a few minutes ago to tell me he was done with his last class. High school is over. He’ll head off to college this fall. I hope I can be one tenth the letter writer that Mrs. Howard was. I fully realize that food will need to be included with my letters to get them read. But whatever it takes, right?
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.Deuteronomy 6:5-7 ESV
We know all about sitting in the house, walking by the way, and lying down. That’s kind of the definition of my recent life. I hope my reminders from these days have planted seeds, because now is the time for my oldest to rise up. Praying that even when my daily proddings dwindle to a few texts, calls and letters that he’ll choose to love God with all his heart, soul and might.
Who can you sit down and write a note to today? Who might benefit from the reminder that “the hope of His coming [can] be wonderfully precious and strengthening to us all?” May we love Him, trust Him, and praise Him today and every day!