I wrote this open letter a few years ago with a couple of people in mind who I had recently met and learned their stories. I am moved to share it again. It could be written to so many.
What can I say? Are there any words that would make a difference? How can I, living as I say that all should live and yet rarely joyful, claim that I know the path to peace, fulfillment, and happiness? I know that if I hold back because of my own imperfection I will never be able to share what little wisdom God has allowed me, so with open acknowledgement that I have not yet managed to fully apply the truth I know, I try to pass it along.
Should I dare to speak to someone whose life and experience are so different than mine? Can I offer anything that someone old enough to be my parent would be able to receive? I have certainly known the pain of loss, but each loss is different. I know what betrayal feels like, but not on the scale that some have seen it. In truth my life has been good. That I cannot see well is a huge frustration but I wouldn’t trade the life I’ve been given to gain the ability to see. What is that against the love of a family, the wisdom of good parents, and most of all the love of Yahweh? If I can point to tragedy in my life it has been that of my own making, and even there God has spared me. I was brought up in the Truth, and that kept me from much that destroys life.
Maybe it is only this that I can offer. I have hope in Yahweh. There is no hope in religious ritual. It may provide the solace of the familiar, but there is no life in it. True worshipers may exist within its context, but in itself it does not promote true worship. Church as most of us define it is no church at all. The church is comprised of true followers of Jesus, not of congregants in a particular building, group, or denomination. It is among such true believers that one may hope to find a small sample of the love that Yahweh intended for us to share. These people are rarer than even the shrinking rolls of church attendees would indicate. Once discovered, they too will fail us at times, because they like us are flawed. The only one in whom we may have unshakable trust is Yahweh, the God of the Bible.
But He designed us to operate in community. We were not meant to function in isolation. In isolation we cannot receive His love through His people, nor can we give it. The latter is crucial. When we give Jesus our lives and are thus reborn, we have within us His nature and are compelled to act as He would. We cannot be healthy unless we are doing what He does. As I live my life I become more and more convinced that the only path to consistent and lasting joy is in service to others, which is service to Yahweh. WE love Him by loving each other.
Those are pretty words, but they seem to crumble to dust upon the slightest brush with reality. The best of us fail, and most of us are not the best of us. We tend to be selfish, ungrateful, spiteful, and without real love. To love and give of oneself only to have more demanded without so much as a word of gratitude seems to pull that joy I spoke of well out of reach. This is why we need others around us. We need a community of godly people who will stand with us. It is more blessed to give than to receive, but if one never receives he runs out of anything to give. I for one would rather that everything I need come straight from God. He’s the one who will never fail. But God means for His people to be conduits for His love. By denying others the opportunity to give to me, I deny them the opportunity to be blessed by the giving and act out God’s nature in their own lives. This is tough when trust has been often betrayed, but there is healing in it.
I also hurt for those who choose to reject God’s best for them. What can I say that would help you understand? The love you seek cannot be found in a relationship devoid of commitment. The pain you hope to soothe will only grow worse as your soul becomes further divided among partners who themselves have no notion of love beyond what pleases them or seems to fill their own emptiness. What will you do if you should find true love and discover that you have too little left to share? God does not wish to take love away from you. He wishes to give it to you. He is not out to take all joy from your life, but to show you the way to more joy than you imagine possible. Loving Father that He is, he guides us away from the things that will hurt us and toward that which is best for us. He is also just, and though He would not have it so, He must eventually judge those who will not listen to the truth. This above all I would spare you, for there is no greater sorrow than to be separated forever from the lover who would never have left you. Come to Him. He does not seek religious ritual. He cares little which label you wear. I think He would prefer that you wear no label at all. He wants your heart. If you give yourself to Him, He will guide you to the love you seek. He is known as Jesus, the god of the universe made flesh to die so that you can live. He is Yahweh, the eternal Father who loved you enough to sacrifice His own son to have you back. There is no greater love.