Tuesday, December 7, 2010
A Letter Under My Door
I was 21 years old and a Junior at Wayland Baptist University. I had just spent the last nine months of my life struggling through college while being tormented by an abusive boyfriend whom I would foolishly accept a proposal from.
On December 29th I was home from college on Christmas break and I got a call from this manchild. We were arguing again. I was miserable. I was so afraid to call off the wedding and break up with the man, but I knew I would just be waiting to die if I went through with it. I hung up the phone, walked in my mom's room where she was folding laundry and said, "Mom, I can't do this!" she responded "Anna, you don't have to!"
That evening I accepted his invitation to go to dinner to "try and work things out" but I was done. I had taken the engagement ring off and put it in an envelope. That night over dinner I ended our engagement. I was tired of being made to feel worthless, and even though I knew I would face all kinds of embarrassment I was ready to make the right decision.
I came home that evening and went straight to my apartment at the back of our church building. I fell asleep crying. I slept all night until 11:30 the next morning when all of the sudden I got a knock on my door and a letter slid underneath. My dad opened the door just enough to say, "I love you" then walked away.
I remember going to get this letter and as I read it my tears just fell all over it causing the ink to run. After I read it I folded it in half. I accepted the challenge it contained to quit feeling sorry for myself and move on to greater things. I got up out of bed and got on with my life of serving God.
The night before my dad's funeral I found this letter. I'm not sure if he ever intended it to, but his words spoke directly to my heart again. This time in the midst of even greater heartbreak. I read it again through my tears tonight and once again it encouraged me to wake-up and keep going.
I retyped this letter just as Dad wrote it. I hope it is a challenge and encouragement to all of us as we start a new year, new season and a new day.
December 31, 2000
To: Anna Lea Lane
From: Don E Lane
Preparation Determines Our Destiny
Exodus 23:20 “Behold, I send an Angel before you to keep you in the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared.”
Anna, I am writing to you today for several reasons. One, I love you and I want to heal the hurt you are feeling. If there was a way to heal the hurt you are feeling, I would do it! Two, I want to tell you why this type of thing happens to people like you. Three, there are some things in life with such deep personal spiritual nature they are best expressed in writing. This will allow you to go back to these words over and over in life and wring all the good out of them you can.
The things you have experienced and are experiencing now speak volumes about what God thinks about you and what His plans are for your life. The poem I have often quoted comes to mind again:
When God wants to mold a man and make a man
When God wants to find a man to try His splendor out,
Watch His methods and watch His ways,
How He hammers them and hurts them and with mighty blows converts them
Into tiny pieces of clay
And He alone knows what they are about!
When you consider what you have seen in life. You have been cared for by the church along with your family all of your life. You have experienced the pain involved when that same group of people try to “kill the preacher”. You have seen the struggle financially when your we tried to be where God wanted us to be at any cost. We sat in the dark when they cut off our utilities. We drove old cars and threw papers at two o’clock in the morning to get by.
In a million ways you have had to accept less, and be happy with being third in line. You had to keep your tongue when all your friends could say whatever came to mind, because your father was the pastor. You had to suffer through boring sermons and sometimes brutal business meetings.
Sometimes it was confusing to try to live for God with a completely different set of rules and priorities as the other 99% of young people. You went to school at home while everyone else was with their friends. The rejection of your father’s message resulted in you being rejected by your friends. You had to move, and move and move! And now you have had your heart broken by someone with the wrong motives.
Five years ago you suffered the trauma of watching me be reduced to an invalid, requiring the whole family to put their lives on hold while I fought to save my life. Once that trauma had passed you were a part of a bold move to an abandoned building and the beginning of a ministry requiring more physical work than any other. It is a good thing you didn’t have many friends, at least it saved you the embarrassment of explaining you families strange vision of what a church should be.
When you consider what you are going through right now it is hard to know the reasons why. Let me give you my best answer. God has put you in a great position of knowing Him in ways few people will ever find in their lifetime. I know the task He is preparing you for is great because the preparation has been so great.
There are some jobs in a hospital you can be trained for in an afternoon. To turn on a machine and record the results takes maybe an hour to prepare for. The lady selling popcorn in the lobby did not have to go through rigorous trials and training. In that same hospital, a surgeon opens a patient’s body up and has that life in his hands. The consequences are grave and of highest interest because so much is riding on the result. Will a life be saved? A family member come home again and be able to live with all their health again? That physician did not have to go through a horrible week of training. He went through a life of training. He learned and studied and was tested until he ceased being what he was and instead became a doctor. Wearing the white coat, and writing on charts could be learned in an afternoon. Saving lives required suchh time, trial and testing that he literally was changed from the inside out into an officer of health.
Life in the ministry is much the same. In most of our schools today young people are being prepared to look like they are in the ministry. When they graduate they will know how to “wear the white coat”. They will order literature, plan the ski trip, have a great planning session and carry out a great calendar of programs. That will be the extent of their accomplishments.
Anna, God is rather preparing you to transform cities, and move continents to the feet of God. He is molding you into a person to wield the Word of God like a scaffold and do spiritual surgery with eternal consequences hanging in the balance. This generation of young babies are in your hands. The future of children who need a hope and reason to live are you assignment. Are you up to the task? If you never take the challenge, risking failure, could you ever be up for the task?
Instead with all honesty you can look that great calling in the eye without fear, for God has taken you to the heights of His love and has held you safe in the midst of the greatest of human hurt. You have seen a side of God only a few people will see. He talked to one at a burning bush, another with his son on an altar ready to be sacrificed. One he found covered in sores with all hope lost. Another hiding in caves from a vindictive king. He called some to a den of lions, some from a fiery furnace, others from the sea side. Some felt a fire of torture, others were beaten and in chains. Some were beheaded, and exiled to faraway islands.
II Corinthians 11:23-28 Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness— besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.
You will have a few things in common with all these others who have gone before us. You will know the splendor of God and will be a mighty tool in His hands to use in these last days before Jesus calls for a final accounting.
Adoniram Judson was called from a successful business to the small Burmese Islands to serve God. There he worked to interpret the Holy Scripture into the Burmese language. While there his children and wife died of small pox. He came back to the states and married again only to return to his work. His second wife died along with his two children born form her. In the end he contracted the same disease and was buried and a small headstone placed at his grave reads: HERE LIES ADONIRAM JUDSON, THE BURMESE BIBLE IS HIS REWARD HIS RECORD IS ON HIGH.
Anna, at any turn we can all run away from this life of tremendous significance and accept something less. Many will choose a job that is easy and trouble free, but consider the reward for those who finish well.
With all My Love and Admiration,
Don E. Lane
The richest man in Amarillo