27 February 2016

My Love Letter from God

Last June, there was a much-talked-about special service at my little church. The visiting pastors were loved for their ability to bring the love of God powerfully into ministry, and help those they ministered to have a beautiful encounter with God's love. I was so excited to go, to learn more about these people and how they seemed to carry the love of God so powerfully.

As that Sunday evening neared to just a few days away, I got a call from one of the leadership team, asking if I would help out by watching the children that night. We have several single mothers in the congregation who needed support in being able to attend the service, so child care was offered. I swallowed hard and paused for a moment, and then said I would do it.

It was a rough day; one in a long string that led up to the disciplinary council that closed a big phase of my life. It was also my 39th birthday. And while it was hard, God is faithful. The children had a great time playing with one another, and my friend LeAnne and I didn't have any serious issues amongst the dozen or so we were watching.

After the service had been going for a while, a little blonde woman I didn't recognize came out of the sanctuary and handed me an unmarked envelope, saying with an accent I couldn't identify, "Here's a love letter from God for ya" before disappearing again through the sanctuary doors.

I looked at the envelope for a minute, and put it in my pocket.

After the service, people streamed from the sanctuary, enthusing about the wonderful service, and how refreshed and renewed they felt. I smiled, honestly glad for them, but feeling a little sad, too, that I hadn't had the chance to go and soak in the love of God with them. Being in the fellowship hall with the children wasn't, on that day for me, an atmosphere conducive to meditating on the presence of God. ;o)

After a bit, I found myself sitting in the hallway with LeAnne, catching up after not seeing each other for a couple of weeks. She asked me what was in my love letter, and I told her I hadn't opened it yet. She chided me, urging me to open it. So I pulled it out, looking at the outside for a moment, wondering if it could possibly speak to my circumstances that day. I knew the visiting pastors had brought a stack of these written beforehand, and that they handed them out randomly. I had heard a few people exclaiming over how perfectly those letters had spoken into what they were struggling with or going through, but I still wondered. In all honesty, I was feeling a little left out, and wondered if it would be a generic "God loves you" message that would fit anyone, at any time. Finally, I lifted the flap and drew out the card. The front had a watercolor of a lovely brick house and flower garden, with a sweet Henry VanDyke quote, but didn't really strike me as anything special. When I opened the card, here's what I read:

My Beloved,
 
I love you for the unique individual that you are; always caring, putting others before yourself, and willing to lend a helping hand. I have a special place in heaven for you! 
Love your heavenly Father :-)

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I welcome questions and concerns--they are most often what spur us closer to the truth. I only ask that we all give everyone the most generous benefit of the doubt, assigning the best motives possible. A soft answer truly does turn away wrath, and an atmosphere of Jesus's love is the best for learning, no matter which side of a discussion you're on.

Thanks so much, and God bless you!