The Last Letter

Do you remember the last letter you received from someone?

Parts of a Letter 2I remember my last hour of working for several companies I’ve enjoyed over the years. Though I hated to leave, it was time to move on – and generally that was moving to another state!

And we have certainly enjoyed our relocation’s! Texas. Alaska. Texas. Alaska. Washington. My wife jokingly says we are the TATAWA family! My kids can add several other states to their own – Nevada, Oregon and California. And who knows how many more will be added before life slows us down!

Particularly, I remember the “going away” parties. Heartfelt goodbye’s and maybe even a little bit of jealousy on those staying while I’m leaving, or me leaving while others are staying. Gifts. Pat on the back. Attaboy’s. Stay in touch. Call me.

Good sentiments, but for the most part we know we’ll never stay in touch.

There are several good contacts, friends everyone, that I have enjoyed keeping the lines of communication open. In each state there are several special people. Close friends. We text, email, call, and even sometimes meet face to face! More than the secular jobs, there are a number of folks from various churches throughout the years that I really enjoy staying in touch with.

To each of you, and you know who you are, thank you for being good friends through the decades!

With this I reflect on perhaps the greatest letter writer in the Bible! Apostle Paul. His ministry and epistles to churches and saints in the countries that he reached were blessed by his desire to communicate. In person. And by letter. Every place he went, he left people behind that he stayed in contact with. In that olden time of penning letters, his greetings always seemed to refer to the audience, including some by name, and his closures always referenced someone. Sometimes for the good, and sometimes for the bad. He may have had someone writing for him. In several of his epistles he makes a remark that lets us know it may be another writer, but his hand stamp of approval was on the letter being sent!

The salutation with my own hand—Paul’s. (1 Corinthians 16:21 NKJV)
This salutation by my own hand—Paul. Remember my chains. Grace be with you. Amen.
(Colossians 4:18 NKJV)
The salutation of Paul with my own hand, which is a sign in every epistle; so I write.
(2 Thessalonians 3:17 NKJV)

One greeting and closure stands out. It is perhaps his last letter recorded. It’s his second letter to his protege, Timothy.

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus, To Timothy, a beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day, greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy, when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also. Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. (2 Timothy 1:1-6 NKJV)

Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus. Erastus stayed in Corinth, but Trophimus I have left in Miletus sick. Do your utmost to come before winter. Eubulus greets you, as well as Pudens, Linus, Claudia, and all the brethren. The Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Grace be with you. Amen. (2 Timothy 4:19-22 NKJV)

He was close to Timothy and opens with words of fondness for Timothy, and closes with greetings to others.

It seems his instructions to Timothy may actually be extended to the idea that Timothy should be the extension of Paul to all the others. “Greet” them (Salute in the KJV) comes from a Greek word that may implicate that he was to “embrace” them in his absence. I can almost see Timothy reaching out to others as instructed by Paul…and sharing his greetings.

We all do this without even thinking about it. “Tell dad I said hello.” It’s often me telling mom this because dad does not like to talk on the phone much! If he answers, then he will quickly pass it over to mom.

I have found that birthday, anniversary and Christmas cards are sweet replacements of the letters from old. I have a collection of them that I’ve squirreled away against that day that I want to reconnect with you, even if only in my mind and heart.

Till I graduated high school, grandmother used to write me a letter (and also to all her grandkids) and send a birthday letter with 2 dollars. I wish I had kept those letters! I know I did not keep the money!

One last thought. My wife and I wrote volumes to each other during our courtship. Notes and messages posted on the house and cars, even a few on the bulletin board at work! I even had one notarized! We still have some of them. Next time you see her, ask where they are. Go ahead. I dare you! Tell her that I said, “I love you!”…