At our annual Christmas luncheon, Mother pulled a small envelope from her purse and wordlessly, tenderly presented it to me. I recognized the uneven penmanship as my father’s. My mind raced. “Oh, Mother! Is this the letter — the one I’ve begged him to write for so long?” Her glimmering tears answered silently. She suggested I read it when I was alone.
“Letters mingle souls.” —John Donne
Later that night, as I sat in the hearthroom amid the glow of flickering flames and the hazy halo of Christmas lights, I tore open the envelope with trembling fingers and read the precious missive. Onto several little note pages, my father’s stoic soul had melted, giving way to a litany of love. For as long as I could remember, Daddy had never voiced his tenderness toward me. What he could not say in person now flowed freely from his pen. I read and wept — and wept again. Gently placing the papers back in the envelope, I knew I was placing a lifetime of Daddy’s love in my heart.
How well I understood my father’s awkwardness. I had often tried unsuccessfully to verbalize my love to my heavenly Father. Self-conscious and stilted, I found it impossible to speak my love in prayer. It was difficult to concentrate and to articulate my deepest feelings for God. My endearments were spoken scattershot — blurted erratically, thrown haphazardly to the wind. I began to realize that sentiments so treasured, so tender, must be carefully weighed and thoughtfully considered, mined like gems from the heart’s depths.
Then one day I took the time to write a letter to God. It was amazing! My emotions poured forth, spilling over from my heart’s reservoir of love. Somehow the very act of writing — this praying on paper — had released a geyser of feelings formerly unexpressed.
Yet this experience really should have come as no surprise. After all, God, our supreme Lover, our great Romancer, knew that a wonderful way to woo His beloved and express His emotions was through a love letter, the Bible. He knew that “letters mingle souls,” and He gave us His heart-print in ink so that we would have the joy of reading, pondering, and tracing its testimony over and over again. Because the spoken word is ephemeral, God bestowed us with a lasting testament of His passion.
God took great pleasure in giving us His written love letter. And we can assume He would also take great delight in receiving our written response. Because God is a writer, it is only natural that we, created in His image, are writers also.
As one author declared, “Love always wants to proclaim itself, to write itself everywhere: in the sand, in the fire, with flowers, in the wind.” David, the psalmist and king, knew this. He declared, “My heart is overflowing with a beautiful thought! I will write a lovely poem to the King, for I am as full of words as the speediest writer pouring out his story.” When David’s psalms were put on paper, the abundance of his heart naturally spilled over into a collection of love letters, the Psalms — the book of Scripture many of us treasure most.
Oh, how we cherish love letters! We wait breathlessly to receive them. We read and reread them. We sprinkle them with perfume, tie them with a satin ribbon, and store them in a gorgeous box. We savor them because they make us feel extraordinary — because someone thought enough of us to write to us, because someone took the time and effort to reveal his inmost, passionate thoughts, because someone trusted us with the greatest gift of all, his heart.
It is the gift of your whole heart that God most desires — a heart without pretense or posturing; a heart in all its honesty, beauty, passion, and brokenness; a heart pulsing with love, joy, sadness, delight, doubt, pain, anguish, even anger. True love expresses all emotions, and true love — God’s true love for you — accepts them.
The most beautiful way I have found in which to wrap the gift of my heart is within a letter. Love letters are “our heart on our sleeve, our battle standard, our essence, our indelible signature, our emotional fingerprint, our private well of memory…our true secret self.”
It is our hidden self we most long to reveal. My love letters reveal my truest essence — my soul made visible in all its intimacy and intricacy. I cannot help but love God because He loves me; I cannot help but write to God because He has written to me. I take the time to write because my Lover is worthy of my efforts. I write because, though physically unseen, God is real, and writing draws me closer to Him. I write because I desire to offer Him more than a hurried “I love You” on the run. I write because I long to embroider my passion with a flourish of my pen, an embellishment of my heart. I write because my spoken sentiments are evanescent, and I desire a permanent way to preserve my thoughts. I write because God values my prayers so much that He says He sprinkles them with incense and saves them in the “golden bowls of heaven.”
My ups, my downs, my victories, my defeats, my adoration, my apathy, my faith, my doubts, my questions — and God’s responses — are recorded in my journals. These entries are love letters from my heart to God’s — messages from His heart to mine — letters sent special delivery to and from heaven that have changed my life on earth. I sign my letters in ink that will one day fade. But God signs His in indelible ink — the blood of His Son shed for me, blood that covers my imperfection and allows me to pray openly to Him.
"You show that you are a letter from Christ… 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 3:3