Practical Proverbial, from Hebrews, 6 December 2017

I want you to know that our brother Timothy has been released. If he arrives soon, I will come with him to see you.  Greet all your leaders and all the Lord’s people. Those from Italy send you their greetings.  Hebrews 13, verses 23-24.

My son in law is current deployed overseas and he talks with his wife and daughter almost daily via Skype, Facebook, and Marco Polo.   I wish those things would have been available when I was still in the military.   And when my wife was overseas on a mission trip in Romania, we talked online (and did our daily devotion) every day via Skype.    When we were stationed overseas (in Italy) in the late 1980s, my wife and I would call home about once per month.  We looked forward to those calls as a real morale booster.   And, speaking of morale boosters, in the mid-80s, when I was deployed to sea, our team received periodic “personals”:   messages called into our unit office, then transmitted to us on the ship.   Getting one could make (or break) your day.

Still, it’s not the same as a letter.

No matter how you communicate, the important thing is to communicate.   In the days of the Hebrews, letters were the only method.   You could send someone to relate an in-person, personal account of something, and that was convincing (it still is).   But if you wanted to transmit an explicit, word-for-word message, you had to write it down and send it.   Years later, it would still preserve your message.   For instance, consider what you know just from these concluding verses in chapter 13:

  • Timothy, a fellow believer, has been released from custody
  • That same Timothy was on his way to meet the writer
  • Together, the two of them would likely travel to where the recipient of the letter lived
  • The writer fondly thought of his audience and asked them to greet mutual friends
  • Someone from Italy, acquainted with the writer, sent greetings.
  • There was more than one person there from Italy
  • There were things the writer wanted his reader to know

That’s a lot to pack into just a few words, but those are some of the messages the writer of the book conveyed as he closed out his epistle.   Two thousand years (and across five continents), we are still reading his messages.  The only way he could reach people across the Mediterranean and into southern Europe was to write a letter, and that letter enclosed good news about Jesus.   When it was done, the writer wanted to close fondly.   He wanted to end on a positive note, so he sent warm greetings.   How he did it didn’t matter as much, though, as THAT he did it.   That he answered God’s call to share a message with his fellow brothers and sisters.   We benefit from that today.

I saved the 1987 personal message that my (now) wife sent to me while I was at sea, asking for me to call on her when I returned home; as you’ll remember, thirty years ago yesterday I did.    It’s hanging in a small frame on the shelf as I walk into my closet.   Somewhere out in my storage unit I have several small boxes full of cards and letters that Hunnie and I exchanged when we were dating.   I also have boxes with that same correspondence from my parents in 1950s Germany, and even my grandparents thirty years before that.   One day, I’ll go back and read those old letters.   They still have something to say.

So this is a challenge to you, friend reader.   This Christmas, send out some Christmas cards (my wife and I are actually sending a New Year’s card this year instead).   Pick just one person you know and write a letter to them, then mail it.   Actually use snail mail.  Better yet, share a little Jesus in that letter, and close it out with warm regards.   Years from now, someone may just read it and cherish.

For further reading:  Acts 16:1, Acts 18:2.

Lord, thank You for communicating with us!

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Daily Proverbial, from James, 30 August 2013

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.  James 1, verse 12.

Please permit me to skip ahead a few verses to commemorate a milestone for someone special to me.

Today is my wife, Kimberly’s, final day on her job.   She has spent the last few years working as a director at a private pre-school in North Texas.  Years ago, she dreamed and planned to work in a position like this one, so when the opportunity presented itself, she quickly rose up to apply.  Every job has it’s challenges, and every job is demanding, but I don’t know how many people looked closely behind the scenes to see just what she has done to serve in the position that, for her, successfully concludes today.

Kim is leaving her job to begin a new phase of her – and our – life.   By this time next week, she will be overseas, in Romania, working at a mission there run by a friend of ours.   She’ll only be gone for a little under two weeks, but what she’ll do in that time remains unknown.   The reason?   She’s simply going overseas to serve.   Serve in whatever capacity the mission there needs at the moment.   Washing dishes, working with kids, talking with students, cleaning a street, reading, a good cry, hugs for those who need them, anything:   her only goal is to serve.

After her return, she’ll be helping me to publicize my new book.   We’ll be doing book signings in Indiana, Texas, and possibly Colorado.   In-between that, she’s volunteering at a local MOPS group, and doing background work on the vineyard we’re looking to open in 2015.  Hopefully, she’ll stop herself enough to take a breath, relax, and revel in where she is.

All this is possible because of God.  That, of itself, is a miracle.   Even more amazing to me right now, though, is that someone, especially my Hunnie, would do it.   It’s not that she couldn’t; I can think of nobody more eminently qualified.   No, the amazing thing is that she would; in a world of “me first,” it’s so rare.  In every job she’s ever had, she’s made it into much more than she found it.   It was that way at the pre-school, at the avionics company where she worked prior, in the church office where she worked before, and in our home.   Along the way, she had to persevere.   It’s no coincidence that Romans 5 is Kim’s favorite Scripture because she has learned to trust the real hope of Jesus through suffering, perseverance and the best character I know.

At the conclusion of her life my stunning wife will receive a crown of glory from the Lord of Lords for living a life of service.   Service as a nanny, mom, wife, worker, companion, follower, and friend of God.  All of her life she has worked for a moment such as this, and thanks be to Jesus that He made it arrive here and now.  Her crown is coming some day, but I applaud her with everything I am today.

From the bottom of my flawed and sometimes selfish heart, all I can say to my wife is that I love and admire you.  I’m thankful for all you’ve done in your work, and so proud to stand by your side while you exit your current job with your head held high.  The long hours, tedious days, early mornings, and sometimes endless downloading of frustrations are all worthwhile because you’ve served so honorably and so well.   You’re going off on your first mission, and for all of us it is a change.   But it’s a good change, and a wonderful gift of honor to be the partner, lover, husband, and best friend to such a selfless servant of Christ.

Thank you, my Hunnie, for all you have done, for providing for us, for setting an example that all of us can aspire to, and for serving Jesus faithfully, with dignity and energy, and with courageous perseverance.  Thank you for enriching the lives of all of us around you, and especially all those kids at the school.  Godspeed your trip next week, and I can’t wait until you get back home to see where God leads us tomorrow.

Lord, thank you for this wonderful woman in my life.   Keep and guide her safely on this journey, and bring her home safely to serve You as You’ll have us in the exciting years to come.