My third grade teacher thought I needed a pen pal in Argentina. Why? My life consisted of cornstalks, cows, and TV commercials. We lived in the middle of a cornfield, and I could barely find Indianapolis on the map. How was I supposed to relate to a little girl in Argentina? Needless to say, the international experiment failed.
I wrote the obligatory letter. I think I received one stilted reply. And that was the end of that.
International Pen Pals
Fast-forward twenty-five years. Now, I live in an Indiana cornfield three hours north of my hometown. I can find both Indianapolis and Argentina on a map, I still have no desire to write letters to anyone in either place, BUT…I have a daughter who wants to live in Brazil for a year as an exchange student.
My interest in international pen pals just piqued.
The Tie That Binds
Our daughter, Emily, spent her junior year of high school in Bage, Brazil. While she was there, I wrote a few emails to her host families in English, but the relationships SHE built will last a lifetime. She’s still fluent in Portuguese and maintains contact with a few close friends and a host family through Facebook–though she hasn’t seen them in almost ten years. Why is she still so connected?
It’s the heart behind her WORDS. Shared memories. United passion. A common hope of seeing each other again someday.
The WORD Became Flesh
Words are the building blocks of all relationship, whether spoken, or written—or even gestured with sign language! John 1 tells us that Jesus is the incarnate Word of God, stepping into flesh to dwell on earth with humanity for a time. God’s foundational relationship came through His Word, and when Jesus died and rose again, He sent His Holy Spirit to dwell WITHIN us to testify to Scripture as His Truth—the foundation of our relationship with Him. So, when we read a passage of the Bible, and it “leaps” off the page as if it was written for us in this moment for this circumstance…IT WAS!
The International Pen Pal
However, there may be times we feel more like the little girl living in an Indiana cornfield, writing to Argentina. Sometimes Scripture seems totally irrelevant to what we’re experiencing in the moment. My suggestion?
Find your shared experience, united passion, or common hope with the writer or the recipients of the Scripture passage.
Remember that my daughter remains united with her Brazilian friends and family through their commonalities. When we realize the authors and recipients of Scripture passages were REAL people, with the same hopes and disappointments, joys and sorrows that you and I face—we may just find a new pen pal.
Paul, the Prolific Pen Pal
Paul wrote to A LOT of people! The New Testament is full of his letters to the:
You get the picture… And every time he says, “I always thank God for you because…,” its almost like he’s talking to me personally! The bummer part is, every time he gripes at one of these renegade churches, he’s also griping at me. Ugh.
My Pen Pal’s Encouragement Today:
During my quiet time today, my pen pal reminded me of this:
“I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge—God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you.” 1 Corinthians 1:4-6
Here’s What That Meant to Me:
- Paul reminded me that I’m only here because of grace.
- It’s through God’s enriching that I can serve.
- I’ve been given all the words and knowledge I need to do the work I’m called to do.
- Everything I see around me confirms what Paul (God’s Word) says is true about my Jesus.
When Scripture becomes a letter from our Pen Pal, we read it eagerly with excitement and yearning.
- Get more out of Scripture by finding commonality with the writer or the recipients of the passage.
- When we realize biblical characters were REAL people, we may discover new pen pals.
- When Scripture becomes a letter from our Pen Pal, we read it eagerly with excitement and yearning.
- Who’s your favorite biblical pen pal and why (Someone who wrote a Book of the Bible)?