I received an email from a friend that told the story of a grandson talking to his grandmother about current events. The grandson asked his grandmother what she thought about the shootings at schools, the computer age, and just things in general. In reply, the grandmother thought about what was different when she was a girl of about the same age as her grandson.
The list was extensive, but here are some of the things she listed for him …
I was born before:
- polio shots
- contact lenses
- credit cards
- laser beams
- ball-point pens
- clothes dryers
- space walk or space station
- computer dating
- day-care centers
- group therapy
- FM radios or tape decks
- Videos, CDs or DVDs
- electric typewriters
- Pizza Hut
The email story went on with many more examples of the differences and then she asked her grandson – “How old do you think I am?”
From my perspective, she was not very old! She was born in 1952 … I would have been 4 years old when she was born!
The email was humorous when reading it but profound in its message … changes have come to us so rapidly that we have not been able to really adjust to one set of conditions before new situations are presented to us. Take the iPhone for example; phones are hardly used for phoning someone anymore; they are computers, cameras, calculators, internet browsers, maps, and games and new generations of them are issued before we know how to use the one we have!
Or consider the family. Rarely do you find entire families in the same city or state. There are many families with children and grandchildren hundreds or even thousands of miles away from grandparents, a situation that was rare 60 years ago. Each of the pictures in this post reflect just some of the locations where our children and family members have lived.
As I was thinking about this email and the changes that have developed in such a short time, I looked through a box that my husband brought to the house after he cleaned out a storage room. When I opened it, there were a number of things that had been retained for no specific (or good) reason. But then I saw a large envelope and, when I peered inside, I saw numerous letters and cards that had been to me sent as an encouragement during a spiritual retreat 20 years ago.
I opened and read several but had to stop when tears made it too hard to read the handwriting. Reading words of encouragement written so long ago by loved ones and dear friends, many of whom are now with our Lord, blessed my heart and soul more than I had anticipated, and surely more than they could ever have expected. A loving gesture of writing and sending a note, that was discovered anew 20 years later, still had the power to evoke strong emotion and thankfulness to our Lord for the blessing of the friendship and thankfulness to them for taking the time to send the note in the first place.
Then I thought about how I communicate with others, today. The family is spread out over hundreds of miles. We send an e-card for birthdays, anniversaries, and general greetings. It is a reminder that we are thinking about them on their special day, and we may even type in a personal note, but that’s it. What about notes to family members, encouraging them and letting them know that, even from a distance, we love them and are thinking of and praying for them. That too is most likely an email.
Communication is easier today than it has ever been. But it is temporal and evaporates at the end of the day.
In Bible days, there was no email or e-card to alert people that David had instructions for the troops. No, he sent a letter. See 2 Samuel 11. The King of Syria sent a letter to the King of Israel along with gold, silver and clothing when he wanted the man of God to heal his servant Naaman. See 2 Kings 5. When Nehemiah was rebuilding Jerusalem, he received numerous letters from his adversary, Sanballat. Nehemiah 6. Handwritten letters allowed communicating with those who were not with you physically.
This was true, also, in the New Testament. In Acts 15, Paul and Barnabas were sent to Antioch with a letter from the church leaders admonishing the people to listen to those being sent to them.
Paul often wrote a letter to one church and then directed that it be read by the other churches in the area also. The letter to the Colossians is an example of this:
And when this letter has been read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea.
Letters were read and cherished by the people in the church and then sent on to the next church so that all were instructed, admonished, encouraged and strengthened by the Apostle’s words.
Moses commanded the people, when they left Egypt and the feast of unleavened bread was instituted:
You shall tell your son on that day, ‘It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.”
We are commanded, numerous times in Scripture, to instruct our children in the ways of the Lord and to tell them of how the Lord has guided and strengthened us during our lives.
Given this migration away from family togetherness, how do we communicate our faith to the children and grandchildren?
One way that we, in the 21st century, can communicate our faith with our children is by letters. It is easy to send texts and emails, and we can even Skype and see them, but perhaps, at times, we should return to the communication of Scripture and send some letters. Letters can be read, and reread, years or decades from now, after we are no longer able to communicate with anyone. Perhaps we should send
- Letters that tell of the Lord’s wondrous love for us.
- Letters that describe the Lord’s guidance and strength during a hard time.
- Letters of instruction and encouragement in the Lord, that say “It is because of what the LORD did for me when ….”.
- Letters that witness to our love for Him and of our love for the recipient of the note.
May my life be an open letter of love for my Savior, and may I communicate that love to those within my sphere of influence in a way that is beautiful and pleasing to my Savior and in a way that will last, perhaps even beyond my own self!
Lord, give me wisdom as I try to communicate my love for You and my love for my children, parents, grandchildren, friends … help me to create a witness that will last and encourage those reading it to renew their focus on You, as You alone are to be glorified.