I’ve written all sorts of letters throughout my life. Letters to my parents from camp, postcards with short letters to my grandparents from vacations, entries in my diaries, cards filled with letters of encouragement to those having a bad day or suffering in a particular way, emails with updates on life with pen pals and old friends, letters of complaint to businesses that under-delivered, birthday cards accompanied with small letters, letters of petition for the voiceless, letters to raise support for missions trips, recommendation letters, and some would even call a few of my exceptionally long texts letters as well.
Letters are profoundly important. I’m still reading Eric Metaxas’ biography on Dietrich Bonhoeffer. And do you know where a good deal of the information we know about Bonhoeffer comes from? His letters. Much of his legacy and the story of his personal struggles, growth, and integrity has been revealed to us after reading letters that his family members and friends kept. These treasures, though lacking actual shimmers from their matte pages, glisten with value.
Thank goodness for those friends and family members who kept those letters. There are so many other figures in history that have been known by their letters. John Adams. Thomas Jefferson. Benjamin Franklin. Churchill. C.S.Lewis. Jack and Jackie Kennedy. Nelson Mandela. The Apostle Paul.
What sort of letters have brought impact to your life?
Was it the doctor’s letter that either gave you a clean bill of health or the one that changed it forever?
Was it the note from the little old lady at church to let you know she was praying for you?
Was it a letter of recommendation that helped you land a job?
Was it the court letter letting you know the date of your child custody hearing?
Was it a card from your dad letting you know that he loves you?
Was it a letter from the bank confirming your bankruptcy?
Was it an acceptance letter from the college you applied to?
Was it a love letter from your beau?
Was it a letter sent to the Corinthians from over a thousand years ago that you read as if it was to you?
Letters. They are so important. But how would we be able to read them if someone had not first written them?
Letters can pass along a wealth of information, communication, emotions, needs, advice, admonishment, wisdom, news, history, legacies, and pictures painted with words of the world around us. They have the capacity to wound or to weave hope, joy, and victory into ordinary days.
Each year, whether you find it to be a jaded, commercialized holiday or a day that you focus on receiving and giving love, February 14th brings us Valentine’s Day.
The truth is, a lot of the time, a lot of us don’t feel like being ushy gushy on this day. I’ve been in the club of girls who wear all black to represent mourning over a lacking love life. When everyone else around you seems to be whisked off their feet with flowers, cards, candy, and fine dining, it’s hard not to want to escape it all.
But Valentine’s Day is more than just a warm, fuzzy sentimental day. It’s so much more than that. It’s about sending messages of hope and love.
There are several legends that attempt to tell us who Saint Valentine was. Some say that he was a priest who secretly performed marriage ceremonies for Christian men and women after Emperor Claudius II banned marriage because he decided that single men made better soldiers. Others say that Saint Valentine possibly was imprisoned and later martyred for trying to help Christians escape Roman persecution and that before he died, he signed a letter, “From Your Valentine.”
Yes, the namesake of this holiday that shows up halfway through the calendar each February brings such powerful meaning to love and sending valentines. If we look beyond the cutesy cards, colorful flowers, and rich chocolates, we find that the roots of Valentines day are in letters and a love that seeks to rescue those who have been trapped by various prisons.
There’s such art and beauty in writing letters. You don’t have to be the great American novelist or an eloquent speaker to pen a letter that is subsequently retrieved from a mailbox to be considered one that is marked by loveliness.
No, just the simple act of sending someone a letter from the heart gives evidence that you care and don’t wish for them to be in the bondage of loneliness.
Who can you send a card or letter to this Valentine’s day? Your mom? Your dad? Your grandma? Your grandpa? Your sister? Your brother? Your uncle? Your aunt? Your niece? Your nephew? Your son? Your daughter? Your grandchild? Your spouse? Your friend? Your boss? A widow or widower? A college kid who is away from home? Someone in the hospital or nursing home? The garbage man? The waitress who just served you? Your dentist? A homeless person?
Do you know what I hope for you this Valentine’s Day? I hope that if you aren’t already, that you’ll become a person of letters. And by that, I mean a person who has a treasure trove of letters collected through the years AND a person who leaves traces of their legacy behind through letters.
When you are long gone, if someone were to discover stashes of letters that you sent to people all over the world, what would they tell about your story?
This Valentine’s Day, you have an incredible opportunity to not only leave traces of a legacy of “true religion” behind in a letter, but also to help make someone else’s story better.
Last month, we talked about the rescue homes that are under construction in Uganda through World Help. Would you believe that Phase 1 of the three homes that are underway to house ten orphans each was completed after we followed the stories that were shared live by World Help Bloggers?! Glory to God!
There are approximately 11 MILLION children who live in the filthy, lonely, often dangerous slums of Uganda. Did you catch that? ELEVEN. MILLION. CHILDREN.
This month, there is a goal to finish Phase 2 of the Rescue Homes building campaign. Do you realize that at least FIFTY orphans will be rescued from the slums of Uganda if these three phases all get completed in addition to the Rescue Homes that have already been built?! That’s amazing! Those are FIFTY lives that will be changed for good by the love of Christ displayed through His people.
I can’t put it any better than what World Help has said, “We’re partnering to rescue and restore children in Uganda by building on the legacy of love. Every brick of the Rescue Homes project will be an outpouring of hundreds of voices saying, “I love you.”
So, YOUR letter…
First of all, I’d love you to join this awesome campaign and write a symbolic love letter to the children that will be rescued out of the ELEVEN MILLION that live in the slums of Uganda by giving what you can to help fund it. $5, $20, $100, $1000… each little bit helps lay bricks of love in these rescue homes and change the stories of children by giving them hope.
Second, up until Valentine’s Day, with your gift toward this incredible life-changing venture, you can write a personalized letter to someone special in your life in the form of a free E-Card. I can’t think of a better way to spread love than through letter and by helping to rescue lives that are otherwise doomed.
Give the flowers and candy still if you’d like. But above all, give love and give it doubly.
I hope this Valentine’s Day will be memorable for you as you leave traces of the legacy that someone may find one day in your beautiful, artful, heart-filled letters of love.
But don’t stop with Valentine’s Day. The art of writing a letter is one of the most profound ways to leave a story laced with love and rescue behind.
Pick up your pen and help remind others of their value as a human being. Tell them that they are loved and cared for, not just by you, but by the one who loves them with an everlasting love.
“The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” Jeremiah 31:3 NIV
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27 NIV