Thursday, August 4, 2016

Two letters to two different places, but one message for us all

   Along with notes written to first-time guests, a note following up on a prayer request, letters to two committees within the church organizing for their work, and probably three dozen emails, two items I wrote this week will stick with me.
   I wrote two letters this week to young men who were very involved in the youth ministries I helped to lead over the past 17 years of ministry. One of the young men enlisted in the US Marine Corps two weeks ago, and I got his address on Parris Island from his mother. I got the address for the other young man from his mother, too. He is in prison for a sudden act of violence that led to an outcome, I believe, he did not intend. It is hard to imagine two different destinations for letters, right? I am struck, though, how similar my content was to them both. I think that if you were writing the letters, your versions would be similar, too.
   I told them both that I loved them. I wrote about God's desires for them. I shared my prayers for them. I wrote about how our family is doing, so they would pray for us, too. And, I included the same passage of Scripture to them both. My friend at Parris Island and my friend in prison both need to hear James 1:2-6 & 12,

My brothers and sisters, think of the various tests you encounter as occasions for joy. After all, you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. Let this endurance complete its work so that you may be fully mature, complete, and lacking in nothing. But anyone who needs wisdom should ask God, whose very nature is to give to everyone without a second thought, without keeping score. Wisdom will certainly be given to those who ask. Whoever asks shouldn’t hesitate. They should ask in faith, without doubting. Whoever doubts is like the surf of the sea, tossed and turned by the wind....
Those who stand firm during testing are blessed. They are tried and true. They will receive the life God has promised to those who love him as their reward.

I believe that these words are as true and timely for both of them as they are for all of us. I need to hear that testing leads to faith and endurance. I need to be reminded to pray for wisdom. I need to hear, again, that those who stand firm will be rewarded. Grace and peace, Scott

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