There are countless songs we can recall, written in almost every musical style, which speak of waiting for, writing, or receiving a letter. Normally the song has to do with a sweetheart who is far away, or an estranged family member who now writes of their love and affection after “coming to their senses,” realizing what they had. I’m sure many of us have sent those kinds of letters to our loved ones and some may have even saved some of those old letters. I have a couple of very special letters and cards from my extended family, my kids, and my wife that — when I see them — I always read them and the flood of emotion just comes over me again.
Sadly, we have lost a lot of the nostalgia and meaning of letter writing with the digital age and the emphasis on saving paper and wood products. Those messages are remembered as long as we keep that cell phone, computer or e-mail account and even then, they often get erased or buried under more messages. There may not be a lot to look back on and read 10 years from now if it is all digitally recorded, even if it is on a so called “hard copy,” The musty smell or the fragrance of an envelope and letter which floods our senses with memories is something that we will never experience with a computer.
I know you’re thinking…….you sound old Kemper, but you can understand. These letters and words of affirmation have real value. Too often real appreciation only happens when someone passes away or isn’t available to hear the words any longer and that is really sad. I remember the retirement party which we had at Grace in October 2003 to honor both Bruce Kemper, the former President at Grace, for 12 years of service and for Dr. Dale Dewitt, to honor his 41 years of teaching at Grace. This was an excellent opportunity to express appreciation and value for their jobs well done. Both men were told of the value of what they’d done in the lives of those who to whom they ministered. Sure there were cards and letters written, but beyond the notes, the testimony of value is that which lives on in the lives of those who were impacted.
The Apostle Paul tells the Corinthians the same thing:
You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, know and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” (2 Corinthians 3:2-3)
Paul knew that those believers in Corinth living out the message of Christ every day before a watching world was more powerful than any document would ever be. It was in the way they lived their lives that proved the validity of Paul’s (and Timothy’s) ministry. The ministry was, and always will be transformational. Not just something to know, but something to live out.
This is the ministry of Grace Bible College and every one of us who work here. We may give assignments and grade papers and serve students in the office and recruit students, but the real test of our effectiveness is the results we see in the lives of our students and graduates! We are commended by the lives lived out by those two whom we minister. How is that for learning outcomes?
Let’s keep the main thing, the main thing. This is an educational institution. This is a ministry of God in the lives of young men and women prepared to serve Christ in Church and Society. Let’s keep that focus as we do all that God allows us today to make it happen.