Sitting at a coffee shop, letters and envelops scattered around the table, I started writing little notes of encouragement to my friends and family. I try to do it once every couple of weeks, but life gets busy (and Day Camp happens). I really like writing letters. Not so much for the act itself, but because I know the joy that comes from getting a handwritten note in the mail. The current message series is spot on. My eyes start to water every time I open a letter. It could simply read “I’m praying for you” or “I’m thinking of you” or “Hi” but to me it says “I love you.” While the New Testament is the part of the Bible that is mostly letters, this is how I read the Old Testament. My friends know that when they receive one of these notes it will be filled with encouragement, funny stories, prayers, and a mini sermon rooted in the Old Testament. I am very predicable in that way.
I find the Old Testament very relatable. Most people find that odd. Don’t get me wrong. I love the New Testament too, but I have always been drawn to the Old. The Old Testament is filled with people trying to figure out what God is saying. They have not seen Him, but they know He is there. These people fail to follow God. A lot! They make mistake after mistake and have to be reminded that God is God. I am right there with them. I have so many things taking my attention away from God. I have so many things that I put up as idols. I try to discern God’s call and often misunderstand it. I wish over and over again that God would show Himself to me in physical form, grab me by the shoulders, and tell me exactly what to do. Most of all, I am encouraged by the Old Testament because God did not give up on the Israelites. He still loved them and forgave them (A lot!). God is still the same today.
This summer, I have several friends working at camps. I send twice as many letters to them because they are isolated. They are cut off from many forms of communication, they are cut off from the news (a lot of it anyways), and they are cut off from sleep. They are forced to live in small quarters with people they do not always get along with and are still expected to be a joyful ball of energy whenever kids are around. It’s a tough job. I know. I’ve been there. Many times. It is easy to get discouraged and forget the reason why you signed up for that insanity in the first place. This week the mini sermon was about Joshua. Moses died and left Joshua with big shoes to fill. His mentor was gone and he was put in charge of the Israelites who have been wandering in the desert for 40 years (because they didn’t listen to him and Caleb in the first place – see Numbers chapter 14) complaining the whole time. What did God have to tell him? “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified. Do not be discouraged. For the Lord, your God, will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9) Life always throws us new challenges and new stressors, but God says to hold your head up high and know that He is with us. Kids running wild? Do not be discouraged! Plans falling through? Do not be terrified! No idea what you are going to do now that you have graduated from Whitworth? Be strong and courageous! Take heart and remember that if Joshua could handle the Israelites and Jericho with God at his side, you can handle all that the world throws at you with the very same God at your side. If you are having trouble finding God, take your eyes off of the problems and read His love letter. The problems will be there when you return.
Falling deeper in love with the Author,