In this age of electronic media, we are held in the clutches of bytes and bylines on social networking sites. Sure, it's convenient. And yes, I wouldn't be able to work without the World Wide Web and everything that goes along with it. But even now as you read this blog, it's not quite the same as tearing open a hand addressed envelope to read news and notes from afar.
Our oldest son, Caleb, has been away at Navy basic training since May 18th. After that last thirty-second phone call saying he had safely arrived, we have been in the dark zone. No phone calls. No email. No Facebook. No nothing. . .until yesterday.
Seems that the Navy wants to make an impression on these recruits. They want to strongly convey the idea that they now belong to the United States military. They want these kids to focus on the here and now; not the by-gone days of living at home with mommy and daddy. Our letters took several weeks before delivery to Caleb was complete. And although I suspected he was writing in what little free time he had, our mailbox remained devoid of any personal greeting. But yesterday, the flood gates opened.
Four letters dating back to the first days of basic arrived in a single envelope. Each, dated so that we could read them in order, bore the details of his busy days. Hurriedly, I scanned quickly through each one before returning to slowly digest every line. I laughed at his disparaging words about those not capable of correctly making the bed, positioning the pillow, or properly folding his blankets and clothes. This, from a kid who probably made his bed four times in his life and whose room was seldom tidy, seemed very odd. He chuckled at those fellas who could not follow directions or run in formation and commented about the whole ordeal not being that difficult. Even more surprising, he spoke of how good the food was, especially supper. And he wasn't kidding.
There is just something about holding a letter in hand and reading it over and over again. You want to glean all you can, reading the lines and what falls between them like a neurotic editor. And the fact that it is written in his own hand makes it all the more special because you know that the words were carefully selected. I can come to know his character, his likes and dislikes because of what I read. It makes the heart happy and the soul content.
What if we looked forward to reading the Father's words written so carefully long ago? I must admit, sometimes that book of letters stays on the shelf way too long. Unfortunately, those letters, though bound beautifully between rich leather covers, do us little good if we don't read and digest them. I suspect I would know the Writer much better if I spent more time reading what He wrote.
And so I challenge myself to a summer of reading worthy letters from Him.