Saturday, May 3, 2014

An Act of Faith

The children are all tucked away in bed when I finally reach into the mail slot by the back door where husband leaves the day's offerings.  

Usually, it's just bills, insurance confusion, and enough junk mail to make me feel guilty about how many forests have been killed on my account.  But today, there's a card addressed to my three children.

I check the return address and pause.  It takes a few seconds, but the synapses finally fire.  It's a card from Liza and Johnathan, my brother and sister in love.  "How sweet," I think, and put it to the side for the children to open tomorrow morning.

Half an hour later, I glance at the unopened envelope again, my brain jolting with the realization of why it took me so long to reconcile the address with my brother and his wife.  This isn't from Liza.  This isn't her large swirling font that always fills each line to capacity.  What's more, where the stamp should be, the word "FREE" is handwritten in purple, something my unconscious recognized as "wrong" enough to make me pause even though my conscious was kept in the dark. 

The tiny, cramped handwriting belongs to Johnathan, my brother tucked halfway around the world on the U.S.S. Bataan. 

I rip open the card, no matter that it's not really addressed to me.  I drink in every word, searching for something in the nothing he's written but still thankful for the words sent our way, only the second piece of mail from him thus far.

Since Johnathan deployed in February, our family has made more trips to the local post office than normal.  In fact, the last time I was on a first name basis with a postal worker was before Johnathan was married during a tour in Iraq.

Each week, the twins and I make the trek down to the beige building with the flag flapping in the breeze overhead.  We give of our time to send love his way, the only thing we can do other than pray, a second gift of love we offer as a family each night. 

In the envelopes, I include a handwritten letter, a story or drawing the children made, and whatever nonsense and goodies can fit to send across the ocean.

Patriotic twizzlers, 400 tootsie pops with Bible verses attached, jelly beans, and 1000 piece puzzles to help pass the time.  I hand it all across the counter, pay the postage, and trust that my package will reach him.

As Oliver O'Toole says in Hallmark's sappy new television show about the dead letter division of the U.S. Postal Service, "Putting a stamp on a letter and sending it out there into the world is an act of faith."

I'd never thought of it that way before, but the quotation has resonated with me ever since.

An act of faith.

It's not just snail mail, though.  My texts and emails require that faith, too, a faith that my words will reach their destination.  I send them out, assume the recipient has read my words, and move forward.

A week before Easter, though, that faith was being tested daily.  My brother hadn't received any of my packages.  It had been two months with my weekly sending of letters, and still, nothing.  That faith in the U.S. Postal service waned a good bit as the children and I (along with my mother and his mother-in-law) wondered where all our mail was going!?

On Good Friday, Johnathan walked into his cabin to find his bunk covered in boxes--all the missing packages we'd sent so far had all arrived at once.  The next day, all our letters arrived in bulk, too....just in time for Easter.

Talk about perfect timing.

It is an act of faith for me to send a letter forth into the world.  But it's not faith in the postal service.  It's faith in the sovereignty of God.

In God's sovereignty, He knew my brother would be most lonely at Easter, a time when we usually celebrate together as a family.  And so, God allowed the mail to be crazy delayed and all arrive at once, at the perfect time to surround my brother at Easter time with the love of His family.

There's another box on my table waiting for me to send it on its way, hopefully in time for my brother's birthday in June.  But if it doesn't reach him by then, that's ok, too.  My faith is in the One who determines when and if it arrives, not in the one who cancels the stamps on my package.

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