Dearest Samantha and Adrianna,
I look forward to living for at least another couple of decades. I just have no prophetic gift to know that I will. If I do go home unexpectedly, I don’t want you to depend upon your best guesses about what I would have wanted to say to both of you.
Possibly surprisingly, I’m not going to concentrate on my full-scale love for my daughters. You already know about that part. If I were to describe its span, the words would only diminish its scope. So, I hope, at the very least, you have always been assured of the love of your mother. Central to my purpose in writing you, then, is to give you some of my insights for life, mainly reflective. And I begin my first writing to you. If it is God’s will, there will be more.
The Word unfolds the reality of our perpetuity. So, first, let’s rejoice. We were chosen by Christ and have accepted his gracious promise for eternal life. We know we have a permanent citizenship in heaven and that your brief separation from me will pale in comparison to the glory together and forever.
Until we do meet again, my expectation for you both is that you examine the Word daily. It is my strongest desire for you. The Bible broadens your intellect and purifies your heart. Manifest the wisdom of the peerless instruction. Never take for granted this gift. In my death, my confidence for my daughters comes from your faith. Isaac Newton said, “We account the scriptures of God to be the most sublime philosophy. I find more sure marks of authenticity in the Bible than in any profane history whatever.” And with that God breathed account, comes light and a clear path to Christ, our bridge to God.
Please don’t stumble over the simplicity of the gospel. It’s the resurrection of Jesus on which history turns. Read the Book of Acts again and understand that the apostles preached the resurrection, not signs and miracles. Those miracles, signs and wonders were necessary for validation. Please don’t pray to activate God in order to get the desires of your heart. And that kind of challenge was going on even when Jesus was alive. Remember when the crowds were looking for Jesus after they had eaten the bread and fish that fed five thousand. They asked him, “What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? Even after they had witnessed the event, they grasped for more physical and temporal benefit. Don’t forget, ever, how Jesus responded. “You have seen me and you still do not believe. All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me, I will never drive away.” He did not oblige the request for further signs and wonders. The miracle is that we will be raised and have eternal life. We don’t need to test God. He gave us the Word.
Although God does tell us that He is not going to tell us everything (there are secret things that belong to the Lord…Deuteronomy 29:29), what has been revealed to us, belongs to us. Jesus gave up his life to have a relationship with us. He directs us to love Him and one another. That’s not highly complicated. That is the new covenant.
So, be relational. Love people in your walk. Deepen your relationships to the point of accountability. As you grow in wisdom (and the prayer for wisdom is good), you will be able to discern motives. You can still give love under thorny circumstances but friendships should not be all of this self consciousness, drama and intrigue. The problem lies in the human heart. I pray for you both to have the clarity to gauge the difference between authentic fellowship and cultural, superficial friendship. I never want you to become the type of person that believes everyone has a double meaning to what they say. You know, there is no hidden cryptic meaning in much of life. I was actually asked by a friend just the other day, “Now, what did you really mean when you asked me what my day was like?” But, indeed, there are dishonest questions. A genuine question comes from a desire to know the answer. And then, there are questions designed to create pain or argument. Paul instructs Timothy on this if you can sit down and read that one evening.
It’s better to have a few genuine, weighty friendships than many empty connections where you do not know each other. Study the rightly famous friendship of Jonathon and David. Read the passages about friendship in the Book of Proverbs. We can’t develop closeness with God without knowing Him. Thus, He gave us the Word. Likewise, we can’t create meaningful relationships with our brothers and sisters if we know nothing about them or vice versa.
You were both born with gifts; abilities enhanced by the Holy Spirit to build up the common good. For His glory, use those gifts. Develop and grow stronger in your walk and the ways in which you can best contribute will become clearer and clearer. We’re all flawed instruments and we need not offer ourselves only when we believe we have become perfect in our purpose. Our involvement in contributing to the kingdom will always be a humble mess to some degree. God knows our secret hearts and if your intent is righteous, you can more easily admit that we are all striving more than living the truth. Our failures, though, don’t extinguish the love of God.
Regarding spiritual gifts, I want to just caution you in this way. If the joy is in your gifts and not in your salvation, you’ll end up falling into a pagan mindset. People can exhibit gifts and become very busy serving without changed hearts. Look back at how Paul rebuked the Corinthian Church in concerning their spiritual gifts. He speaks about the inadequacy of gifts without love. And, in fact, the people in Corinth had strong gifts but there was enormous jealously, division, pride, disputes and proneness to sin. Think also about Mary and Martha. Dr. Luke describes how Martha essentially believed Mary should be looked upon unfavorably because she wasn’t busy serving. “Lord, Martha asked, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself?” Mary was sitting at the feet of Jesus, listening to what He said. Jesus replied, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed – or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” That is, of course service is good. Mary and Martha both loved Jesus. Please just don’t become so busy serving that it becomes self serving or ever a source of pride. Make certain you are spending time with Jesus and loving others.
Daughters, it’s not your job to tweak the message of the Word to make it more palatable. Throughout the Bible there is an unremitting counsel to not accommodate false teaching. There is a unique confidence you will have if you continue to examine the Word for yourself. Please know that there are people out there counting on you being biblically illiterate. Bid them speedy riddance. In a quest to bamboozle people, their preaching may sound as if they are in the orb of sound doctrine. But, it’s about the cash. It is Christian merchandising and I pray you never find yourself at the feet of their teachings.
The false teachers will come as angels of light. They are not going to deny God. In fact, they may claim to have a direct link to Him. You don’t need to stick to a false humility when you spot the wolves in sheep’s clothing. The Word does warn us to not judge hypocritically but it does instruct us over and over to show discernment for false teachers. We are absolutely called to judge false doctrine. It is not an option. It’s a duty. It’s a mandate.
We have seen the miracle of conversion in our lives. The mountain has been moved. We have been transformed and our hearts have been restructured. I hope that never stops profoundly amazing you. God loves you because he loves you. Grace. When you truly figure out the impact of that, you will have no motive to not find delight in the Lord in gratitude.
Expect that you are going to run into disapproval in your life. Know that you will suffer. Your goal in this life shouldn’t be to be pain free and happy all the time. If those are your desires, you’ll be miserable. The key is to learn to suffer well. We’re in a fallen world. There will come a time when there will be only light and no darkness. That is your future. God is Light. So, as Paul instructed, be transformed now by the renewing of your mind. Don’t take the forks in the road that take you away from the light. Your mission now is to love, through joy and sorrow. The thing is, a by-product of the restructured heart is joy and peace, even in the face of your greatest struggles.
My spiritual eyes are so proud of both of you. You have equally developed poise and courage to subdue emotional reactions in others and to not allow difficult circumstances to make you bitter or to make excuses. You love people and want to serve. You have empathy and beautiful hearts. With my soul on my knees, I thank God for you both. Samantha, I remain grateful that you had the great wisdom to marry Natalino and Adrianna, I pray you also may one day enter into a marriage with a man of the same caliber. Know, dear daughter, your worth and walk in the glory you deserve. I love you both with all of my heart and all of my soul.