20 May A LETTER TO READ
We can recall countless songs from almost every genre of music that speak of getting, waiting for, or writing a letter. Normally the letter has to do with missing a sweetheart who is far away, or an estranged family member who writes of their renewed love and affection after “coming to their senses” and realizing what they have. I’m sure many of us have sent those kinds of letters to 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 come across them, I always read them and the flood of emotion just comes over me again.
Sadly enough, we have lost a lot of that written nostalgia and meaning with the digital age and the emphasis on saving paper and wood products. Now, it seems, 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 at or read ten years from now if everything is digitally recorded (even if it is on a so-called “hard copy”). The musty smell or perfumed fragrance of an envelope and letter fills our senses with memories which cannot be duplicated 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. So often, real commendation 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 here 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 41 years of teaching at Grace. Both were opportunities to express appreciation and value for the job well done. Both men were told of the value of what they’d done in the lives of those who were ministered to by them. Sure there were cards and letters written, but the testimony of value is that which lives on in the lives of those impacted beyond the notes.
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. Their lives were to prove the validity of Paul’s (and Timothy’s) ministry. The ministry was, and always will be transformational. Not just something to know, but how to live.
This is the ministry of Grace Bible College and every one who works 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 result evident in the lives of students and graduates! We are commended by the lives lived out by those we minister to. How is that for learning outcomes?
ACTION POINT: Let’s keep the main thing, the main thing. This is an educational institution. This is a ministry of the Lord in the lives of men and women prepared to serve Christ in Church and Society. Keep that focus as we do all that God allows us today to make that happen.