One of the FirstCov family had a powerful experience in her Lent. Her sense of God’s calling rippled out and impacted others. A great story! She invites you to see how God might work through you in these remaining weeks of Lent, maybe by even trying her experiment. Enjoy!
A lot of people give something up for Lent. One year, I tried to think of something I could give up for Lent – Chocolate? Dessert? ... I didn't have very many ideas, and the ones I had I didn't think would be much of a sacrifice for me. I asked God to tell me if there was anything I could do for Him or give up during Lent. About 5 days into Lent, I was talking to my husband and he told me a story about something he learned from the letters I sent him while he was serving in the Army. When he told me that, I thought, “My letters made a difference to someone?” Writing letters and sending cards is something I've done over most of my life. It is something I just like to do. So then I decided that I would challenge myself to write 40 letters in 40 days over Lent. I was already 5 days behind, so I had some catching up to do.
At first, it seemed easy, but after about 10 letters or so, I started to think that it was a lot of letters to write! I committed it to God, though, so I continued. On most days, I asked God who He would want me to send a letter or card to. He would bring someone to mind or put someone on my heart. To start with, I just wrote some friendly words, like “Have a wonderful day!”, but it didn't seem very meaningful, so I started to write a prayer in each card. I was praying through the mail. I sent cards to family and friends, to neighbors and people from church, to people I knew well and people I barely knew at all. I even sent one to the mailman.
It felt awkward to send cards to some people I had just met or some I hadn't talked to since high school. For some of them that God placed on my heart, I made excuses like, “I don’t know her address, maybe I shouldn't send one to her…” But God replied with, “I will make sure you get her address, don’t worry about it.” “Okay…” I said back. He made sure I got every one of the addresses I didn't know - before Easter! I also wrestled with questions like, “Won’t she think it’s weird that I’m sending a card out of the blue?” “Will she think negatively of the idea that I’m praying for her?” I tried hard to put my doubts aside and trusted that it was what God wanted me to do. I felt like I was God’s gardener, planting seeds for His kingdom, while pulling out weeds of doubt, having faith that He would grow something beautiful out of it.
One of the last people God put on my heart to give a card to was our neighbor’s granddaughter who was often over visiting her grandmother. I had never met her face-to-face, but from what I had observed by the way she dressed and acted, to me she looked like the kind of teenager I would be afraid of. I imagined that if I gave her a card, she would smirk at it and maybe think it was “religious garbage.” But I made her a card anyway that told her she was beautiful, that Jesus is passionately in love with her and that our family is thinking about and praying for her. I asked my husband if there was any guarantee that any of these people who I was trying to share God’s love with would do something physically negative against me. He said, “So what if they do?” I imagined that the teenager and her friends might come and egg our house or something. But I made myself be brave and I walked over to my neighbor’s house (hoping she wasn't home, but she was) and asked if she would give the card to her granddaughter. She said she would. I walked away telling myself, “It’s not up to me to decide what these people do with the cards, it’s just up to me to deliver the message.”
A few days later, there was a pleasant surprise on our deck. There was an Easter basket of treats for the kids. And guess who it was from – the neighbor lady and her granddaughter! God sure proved me wrong. Instead of reacting with negativity, the teenager reacted with love! Through that experience, God sure encouraged me to not be afraid of people. I learned that it’s not up to me to decide who will accept His love, but it is up to me to give others the chance to do so.
But, the story did not end here… During and after the Lent season, I received some cards and personal words of “thanks” for the cards I sent. Receiving recognition or thanks was not the reason why I took on this challenge, but it was encouraging to know that people out there were receiving the message. (Although, I heard there was at least one person out there who did not receive my message so positively.)
One of the most amazing things I witnessed, though, happened a couple months after Easter. During Lent, I had been prompted to send The Father’s Love Letter to a certain family member. The Father’s Love Letter is a collection of Bible verses in letter form, telling the reader how much their Heavenly Father knows and loves them. When the thought first came to mind, I thought, “No, she doesn't think about God, she wouldn't care to receive the letter.” But then another thought crossed my mind, “Gasp! What if no one has EVER told her the Real Truth before?” So then I decided to listen to the prompting and send her the letter. I sent it anonymously, though, because the words were straight from God, not me.
A couple months later, at a family gathering, my husband and I and a couple other family members, including the one I sent the letter to, were sitting around a campfire when the one I sent the letter to asked us, “So are you guys big on going to church?” “What do you mean by ‘big on going to church’?” I asked her. “We go to church.” She asked what “religion” we were and I answered, “Christian,” and we started into a whole conversation with her about religion and God and salvation. She said she was starting to “get into” going to church more now because she feels like there is something more out there for her. I asked her if she feels empty and she said, “Yes.” She said she felt she had been getting signs from God.
As she told us a few of the “signs” she had seen, she mentioned that a strange thing happened – she got a letter in the mail with a bunch of Scripture on it, but it wasn't signed by anyone and there was no return address. She thought it was so strange. After being asked about it, she said the message in it made sense, and she even started looking up some of the verses in the Bible, but she was so puzzled that she didn't know who would've sent it to her. My husband and his brother both told her that they didn't think it was weird at all. I just sat there and smiled, feeling like I was overflowing inside, and didn't let her know that I was the one who sent it on God’s behalf. And to think that I wasn't even going to send the letter! But she was ripe for the harvest and God had been working on her heart all along. Who am I to say who God is working on and speaking to? I was so very amazed that God showed me that little glimpse of His story that His is letting me be a part of.
So I encourage you all, during this Lent season and beyond, to take a risk and plant some seeds. For if we do not plant any seeds, what does God have to make grow?
- Lindsey Koskie