Friday, August 21, 2015

a letter for my daughter who is all growed up

This is the kind of letter a father gives his daughter when he drops her off at college and when he is an amateur theologian and likes to make stuff up. 

Sharing a piece of my heart for a remarkable young woman who is truly her own person, strong and wonderful.


Photo by Kelly Maier

Dear Meaghan,

I’m looking out the window at the trees. The sunlight catches the leaves so that, as the wind blows, the light reflects and seems to shimmer as the leaves flutter. It is unavoidable that one side of the leaf will catch the light while the other one will remain in shadow—the light comes from one direction. Maybe that is why the wind turns the leaf—so that, in time, the shadow side will become the side that is enlightened. Thus, the shimmering reflection of the light is predicated on the turning of the leaf.
The wind is blowing, Meaghan. You are a tree with turning leaves. I know we will see new colors in you, new sides that have until now been hidden. You are becoming more and more shimmering, a reflection of the Light of God. You shine God’s light, lovely to behold.
Like the tree, full of life, you are entering a season of fresh growth. This is possible because you’ve had a life of growing roots that go deep. You do not need to worry about being uprooted right now. This is a time for remembering the soil in which you’ve grown.
Here are some things I hope and pray you will remember.
Remember: God is the Ground of All Being. Nothing grows apart from God. In fact, anything that is grounded in God grows of its own accord. Those who are planted in God do not need to worry if their life will be fruitful. Anything planted in God grows. That is all there is to it.
That does not mean your life will always be easy. Far from it!
I do not know how young trees survive strong winds, biting cold and searing heat—but they do. Your life has not always been easy. We have moved you from one place to another yet you never complained. I especially think of that first year we lived in the States after our time in Europe. How hard that must have been for you! I’m grateful that God gave you strength, that you kept your eyes on Him.
There will be more storms to face, and no one knows when they will come or what they will bring, but we do know that if you continue to be grounded in God, He will give you strength to endure.
Endure…that is a good word to remember. This new chapter in your life will take some time to finish. It will require perseverance, renewed resolve. I have no doubt you will stick to it, even when the going gets tough. You are a strong woman, Meaghan. Never forget that.
Remember, too, the Bread and the Wine—that is, after all, what Jesus asked us to remember. Jesus gave of Himself…for you. That means He loves you, He loves you, He loves you.
We have done nothing to deserve His incredible love, but He loves us all just the same. Always remember that He loves you, no matter what. If you stray, He will still love you. God is the perfect Father—how could He do anything else but love?
Since Jesus gave Himself for you, give yourself to Him. Since He is eternally giving in every place, give yourself to Him every day, in every place. Don’t worry, you won’t run out of things to give Him from yourself—because He gives you so much more than you could ever give Him. With Christ, we are always filled to overflowing, even when we feel we have emptied ourselves.
And remember: Jesus gave Himself for others, too. Serve as Jesus served. Love as Jesus loved. Jesus saw the sick and hungry. He worked to heal them and feed them. Show compassion for the down-and-out. See the lonely person and be their friend. Cheer on the weak. Encourage the doubting. Practice generosity. Be gentle.
And give by forgiving, too. Remember that no one is perfect. You will meet people who will annoy you, who will be cruel, who will ignore you or hurt you. Jesus loves them, too. To become like our good Savior, he invites us to learn to love those we now love least. He invites us to learn to love as He loves. Be patient and ask Him to love others through you.
He loves others through you. That is the point of the Bread and Wine. It is something we can touch, taste, smell. It is goodness we can get our hands around. I know Jesus says that He is the Bread and Wine, but the point of faith in Him is that we become the Bread and Wine, too.  You are what you eat: you really are. We become “little Christs” when we eat of Christ.
That is what God wants. He wants you to be the Hands and Feet of Jesus. So remember, Jesus has no Body in this world apart from us.  Carry yourself in this world as though there is no other person to be Jesus to others than you. You are His hands; we are His Body.
That sounds burdensome, maybe, but it isn’t—because Jesus says that when we yoke our lives with Him we discover His burden is, indeed, light—because He does all the heavy lifting. So, don’t ever worry or think that “being Jesus” is all up to you. All that is up to you is to have faith and He will do the rest.
That is when you discover joy. Always remember joy. I have just finished saying that God is love, but I also want you to remember that God is joy. Never forget that God plays and dances. God is the source of all true enjoyment. He created pleasure, not us. When we are in God’s will, we know true joy. When we go our own way it will feel pleasurable for a time, but the pleasure always fades leaving you empty in the end. God’s pleasure is eternal, it never fades.
So…enjoy God as much as you can. Sing and dance with Him. Create! Laugh with God as you would with a friend, because He is your Friend.
There is little else I can think that is important to say right now. You will notice I hardly wrote about Mom and myself. That is because anything of value we have to give you has its source in God.
Yes, we will always love you. We will miss seeing you each day. But, even though you will only be a short distance away, we still treat this time as if you are moving across the country. That is because we know it is best for you to have space to become a unique individual. We know that we will always be a part of you, just as you will always be a part of us—but this is not a time to cling. It is a time for you to grow stronger, stronger in your own person. That is our gift to you in this season: space to grow to become your own person.
To a certain measure you have already become your own person, but there is more to come and I look forward to seeing how God works in and through you to flourish for Him.
So, instead of writing to you about us, I wrote to you about God. No matter what happens to us, you will always have God. And God will never fail you. Always remember that.
I love you more than words can say, Meaghan.

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