I jumped at the opportunity, then sat stumped for a few minutes with my pen above the note card. What do you write to someone to encourage them on a missions trip? “Hope your trip is going well, you’re not too exhausted, the kids are not climbing the van walls, and people are being nice as you reach out. Bye.”
Yeah, just not what I had in mind when I set out to inspire her during this strenuous time. And then I had a thought that made me chuckle. Maybe this is what Paul and some other missionaries felt like as they started letters to the churches they planted. They were excited to reach the churches with challenges and encouragement, and they knew God was at work in the situation. But how do you get it into a few words? I believe the Holy Spirit guided them and in the process the New Testament was crafted into a Christian’s handbook for living in a mission field.
“ This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder…” 2 Peter 3:1
“8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. 9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you 10 always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— 12 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.” Romans 1:8-12
“7 Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. 8 At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.” 1 John 2:7-8
While I am not a senior pastor, missionary, or at all in a place to instruct my missionary friend, I am a fellow believer who can speak truth into her life to edify her and point her back to God. Wow! And God can use my words to work in her circumstances, as she reaches out to people. So something I say can have an exponential impact…like a snowball! I should write more notes!
God, thank You for the power of words, and all the encouragement and truth You inspired the New Testament authors to include in their letters. They have so many references to the Old Testament, and themes of Your love that connect perfectly with the rest of the Bible. God, please help my words to speak truth into her life, and maybe someday I can hear how You used a few thoughts on a card to impact many people. To Your glory, reflecting Your love, Amen.