Sunday, May 15, 2011

Love Letters

I’d finally reached the end of a late-night shift made even longer by the need to do my own grocery shopping at the end of it, and headed out to the far corner of the parking lot where I’d left my car many hours earlier. Wearily I popped open the trunk and loaded the grocery bags into the back of the vehicle, slamming the lid down when I was through. My eyes lifted to the back window of the car and then I literally jumped in surprise! The words “Love you” were written across the glass in white shoe polish! Alone in the dark with nobody but God to see or hear me, I suddenly smiled and even laughed out loud as the midnight sunlight of a friend’s thoughtfulness broke through the gloomy fog surrounding me. Happy once more, I began texting my thanks to her almost before even closing the car door.

It got me to thinking about what messages we spell out with the letters we’ve been given.

Just days earlier my son had purchased a Samsung Galaxy Tab and invited me to play the Words With Friends application, which is the game of Scrabble in tablet form. I was to start the game off and waited expectantly for the seven letters I would be given to work with to pop up on the screen. When they did so my eyebrows rose in surprise, as spelled out perfectly in the middle of the group of tiles was a four-letter word that I wouldn’t let come out of my mouth, much less set down on a game board!

I wish I could say that I didn’t first tally up the points I could’ve accumulated from using it before discarding the notion completely. And suddenly it occurred to me that we do the exactly the same thing in life. Almost unconsciously we weigh our options in delivering our messages. Too often we exaggerate the details slightly to make a better story, lower our standards slightly to raise our standing in someone‘s sight… in short, ignore our convictions somewhat in order to score a little higher in the game of life. There’s a ten-letter word for that, and it’s spelled compromise. God would so much rather that we choose to play well than that we come out on top.

Choices matter in the area of communication because we carry the words we’ve been given around with us. They have the power to bless us or curse us for years after they’ve been delivered. I was grateful that the rain had stopped long enough for me to see message on my car before it got washed away, and I carefully parked it in the garage when I got home to preserve its presence for as long as I could. The next day as I drove around town I would smile all over again each time I looked in the rear-view mirror and saw love beaming back at me from the back window. I’ve tucked similar messages in the pages of my journal to bless me all over again when I look back on them at some later date. But too often we carry the destructive messages that have been communicated to us around with us as well, reliving the hurt of those moments each time we look back in time.

It’s amazing to consider that we can make a difference in this world, one word at a time. So it’s important what words we choose to use. As I was considering my options in the opening word of my game with my son, I realized that I held another letter in my hand that would change the four-letter word I wouldn’t say into a five-letter word that I could play. One letter made the unacceptable suddenly acceptable.

One sacrifice did the same for me spiritually. And now the life that Jesus gave on my behalf influences the choices I make towards others…especially in the area of verbal communication. I have received love; surely now I ought to give love away. Suddenly the message on my car that was originally just a kind thought from a friend became a directive from God.

Yet surely we can go beyond simply being verbally kind to one another. There’s no greater way to spell out a message of blessing than to tell somebody about the love of God that has made hope and help and Heaven available to them once more.

My friend told me later that she almost changed her mind about writing on my car because she thought I might be angry. And sometimes we are hesitant to share what’s in our hearts for that very reason. We fear rejection. Yet we never know who may desperately need to receive a “love you” message from God at any moment in time.

One letter. One Life. One Love.
Pass it on.

“’Woe to me!’ I cried. ‘I am ruined! For I am man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.’ Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, ‘See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.’”
(Isaiah 6:5-6 NIV)

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