The instructions were clear: Send no bulky items. Send only encouraging words.
These orders had come directly from my son’s military recruiter. They were to be followed by everyone writing letters to him during his time in boot camp. And that included me.
Our family had taken him to finish all the necessary procedures. He had passed all his tests. My son was now beginning the hardest endeavor of his life, but I sat at home and could not find the right words put in this first letter to him.
I stared at a blank piece of lined notebook paper.
I had not seen this set-back coming.
As a little girl my daddy would take me to the store and buy my favorite play things, which were pens and paper. My mom taught me to send thank you notes as a young teenager. Even when my kids were babies I would find time to write them letters to open when they got older. I had always enjoyed writing letters and notes.
How would I write him “only encouraging words”, but still tell him about life at home? Did I even need to ask, “how are you doing”?
I was afraid that doing what I naturally loved would end up bringing him pain and sadness.
What I wanted was to be able to send him a big batch of his favorite chocolate chip cookies. Maybe I could even send some milk to go with the cookies. I knew that would make him smile!
Perhaps my husband could box me up and have me delivered to my son so that I could sit alone with him on his bunk, hold his hand and let him pour out his heart to me.
But none of that could happen.
“Send no bulky items” were the orders.
But how? How would I do this when I felt discouraged myself?
I felt inadequate.
I felt like a kid who didn’t know how to do their assigned homework.
My assignment this day was just to write a simple letter of encouragement to my son.
I needed help.
As tears welled up my eyes, I shot up a small, silent cry to God for help.
I felt silly asking for assistance for completing such a simple task.
My son had gone into boot camp with confidence. I would need to face my new daily letter writing campaign with confidence too.
I directed my attention to the words of the apostle Peter in a letter he wrote to excite and engage a group of faithful followers of Jesus.
Peter had already written to this group, but felt called to write again. Peter understood two important things:
- Faith is a gift from God and unites both the weak and the strong to Christ.
- As believers, we can have everything we need because we have received an abundance of grace and peace through faith in Jesus.
In 2 Peter, he begins his letter by proclaiming how honorable it was to be a servant of the King of kings. Into the letter, Peter proclaims how we must keep growing in our faith. And then at the end of the letter, we find where Peter declares his purpose for writing a second letter.
We find that reason in 2 Peter 1:12 “So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have.” (NIV)
Peter tells us that is the duty of a believer to consistently remind other followers of all the many important promises of God and of all the ways we will need to keep growing in our faith in Jesus.
It seemed as if Peter had the same instructions for writing a letter as I had. Peter had beautifully written only encouraging words and didn’t send a single bulky item.
Just as Peter intended, I now was energized to take action. Peter’s letter was a beautiful template for what I could use writing letters to remind my son of the promises of God and how to keep growing in his time of weakness.
Each day I would fill the blank pages with remembrances of:
- His loving mother praying for him
- His believe in Jesus Christ
- God’s promises
- Encouraging Scriptures
As humans, we all need these reminders from one another to keep being effective and productive for the kingdom of God.
We all can benefit from the truth of Peter’s letter. Whether silently, audibly or written on paper or even a screen, we all can be used as a vessel to proclaim to truth and love to the world.
Heavenly Father, help us all to speak encouraging words only to our family, our friends and others in our life. Let us see how we can turn our kind words and quotes of scripture into hope for those who are weak. Let us daily turn to you for help for both big problems and small dilemmas. Guide us as we trust you alone. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Other related scriptures:
Isaiah 55:3 “Listen now, my people, and come to me; come to me, and you will have life! I will make a lasting covenant with you and give you the blessings I promised to David.” (GNT)
Titus 3:8 “This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.” (NIV)
Unlike a secret family recipe, God doesn’t reserve the list of ingredients of a valuable Christian for only a select few to see. We all can multiply our faith each day. What’s one thing you can do today to become more useful to God? Read the list of ingredients Peter gives us in 2 Peter 1:5-8
Join the conversation. Comment below with your personal answer.