I recently found a stack of letters my brother sent to me while he was in college and starting a new life. I was 11 when he left home, and I missed him terribly.
What stikes me now about those letters is their simplicity. Most are written on postcards, some even on index cards. My brother gave me an enourmous gift, usually in a few witty sentences and carefully selected lines. He often affirmed the growth he was seeing in my life and he always pointed me to Jesus.
But as I was re-reading them, I realized they didn't just span his college years. They were written to me while I was in jr. high, high school, and college. They were written while he was in college, after he graduated, and into his new marriage.
Many are wonderful, but a few stand out because of their wit and warmth:
March 10, 1983
It has been brought to my attention that you, my dear young lady, are distraught over the fact that you have not lately heard from me. May I bring it to your attention that I spent time in extensive conversation with you just last Sunday evening, and a postcard from me was delivered to your residence in your name just prior to that time (you remember that marvy card, don't you?).
Meanwhile, the card I received from you this morning was the first piece of written correspondence I have gotten from you this entire semester. Thus, I have enclosed something that will help me forgive your faux pas of accusation - but only if you respond quickly! A batch of baked morsels will be a delicious warm-up to our Easter week meeting when I just might take you to Erik's Deli or Old Country Pizza if I enjoy the peanut butter chocolate chip cookies I expect any day now.
Love, your phantom brother,
"Continue to move toward the high calling of Christ", he wrote.
"Listen to what God says: 'I love you forever.'"
These were the kind words of a brother who didn't have to reach down and pour into the life of a sister seven years younger than him, but he did, and he forever affected and shaped my life. Words have power like that, and I know we know that, but do we practice it?
Thank you, Jeff. You have always loved me like Jesus.