Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Forgotten Love Letter

Imagine a situation with me…

A husband fights with an army combat team in eastern Afghanistan. Everyday his life is in danger; everyday he struggles to accomplish the mission to which he is called.

His wife's love for him runs deep. She serves here by maintaining the home the two have together; she does the work, she pays the bills, she tucks the children in each night.

Date nights are temporarily suspended as thousands of miles physically separate the two. Yet, the wife has a regular tradition. Every Saturday, after the kids are in bed, she sits down to write a letter to her husband. She tells him the important information from the week. She thinks of new ways to remind him how much she loves him and supports him. She shares dreams of the future when their family will reunite again.

She hits send.

At the same time, it’s already Sunday morning in eastern Afghanistan. Her husband knows the weekly email sits in his inbox – but he doesn’t bother to read it. Just like he did last week and the week before. Just like he has done every week since circumstances forced them apart.

Eventually, he remembers all of the unread words filling his inbox. He starts to wonder a little about what they might say. But just a little. After all, he doesn’t have time to read all of them as he's so busy with his military responsibilities.

He decides to find someone in his unit who has more time available. He asks his buddy to read through all of the letters and then summarize what they say in just a few words.

When the job is accomplished, the husband knows the overall points his wife tried to share. All is well at home. She loves him. They’ll be back together at some point.

The buddy doesn’t understand their relationship, though. He doesn’t know the priorities of their life together – their past, their goals, their intimacies, and their hopes and dreams together. He fails to communicate the passion and depth of her words.

Interesting scenario, isn’t it?

I can’t imagine a husband serving in the military would actually do this. But many followers of Christ do it all the time.

It’s been many weeks – many centuries – since circumstances forced us apart from our Loved One. He may not write us a new letter every week but He did write us one that’s about half a million words long. In it, He told us what’s going on, revealed the depth of His love and passion for us, and gave us hope for our life together when we reunite.

So often we settle for someone else’s summary of Jesus’ letter so we don’t have to take the time to read it ourselves. Yet, God wants to speak to you personally and intimately through His Word. He wants to pour life, hope, peace, and joy into you through the living power of His Holy Letter.

But I’m SO busy!

Yes, adding one more thing to our full schedules may seem like an impossible task. Modern technology is a great help, though. Apps and podcasts are available that literally read the Bible out loud. Go to iTunes, Google Play Store, App Store, or wherever you download on your mobile device. Search for “Bible” and you’ll find lots of free options – most of which have an option to have the Bible read to you. Then turn it on while you’re at the gym, cooking dinner, commuting to work, or sorting laundry. You won’t hear every word and you won’t be able to stop and study an interesting verse. But your thought patterns will start shifting away from the lies and towards the truth.

For those who haven’t yet entered the world of podcasts, apps, smart phones, and iPads… you can pick up a small, easy to read copy of the Bible at any Christian book store for only a few dollars. You don’t have to lug around a big study Bible. Pick up a small copy that you can carry in your bag or keep in your car. It’s ok to go ahead and read it while you wait at the doctor’s office instead of perusing the latest tabloid lying on the end table. Or, pick it up while you’re waiting in the car line. Or on your lunch hour.

But I don’t understand it!

I don’t believe one translation is absolutely right or absolutely wrong. I do believe, however, that some are a lot easier to read than others. Find the translation that fits you. Try different translations.

For daily reading and studying, I’ve used the New International Version for years. Gradually, though, I’m switching to the Holman Christian Standard Bible. But sometimes I look up the Complete Jewish Bible, the New American Standard Bible, or the English Standard Version just to see what different perspective a word choice might help me understand. Sometimes I even look up the King James Version (gasp!). It’s also interesting to find an easy to read translation such as The Message; you can sit and read through it like you would a novel.

These are all techniques and tools I’ve used over the last several years. Please give one or two a try. Or, come up with your own. If you do come up with another one – I’d love to hear it in the comment section below!

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