“Are we beginning to praise ourselves again? Are we like others, who need to bring you letters of recommendation, or who ask you to write such letters on their behalf? Surely not! The only letter of recommendation we need is you yourselves. Your lives are a letter written in our hearts; everyone can read it and recognize our good work among you. Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts.” – 2 Corinthians 3:1-3

Why do we write letters? I have been trying to keep up the practice of writing letters as often as my discipline will allow. I think it is important and still a valued gesture that carries more weight than we sometimes understand. One of the most important letters that I write currently is to my younger brother who has recently embarked on a long journey with a 17 year prison sentence. A letter to him is a conduit through which I can (if only vaguely) express my presence, my love, thoughts, and prayers to him—it is the only way that I can enter into that jail cell with him.

The New Year brings the drive and sometimes all too temporary motivation for change and resolutions. I always dread going to the gym this time of the year because it fills to the brim with eager “my goal is to lose 20 pounds this year” people. I wonder if we could prioritize our goals and hold on to one really important focus…to be letters from Christ to the world. In this letter Paul tells the Corinthians that for those that have encountered Christ and allowed the Holy Spirit to write on their hearts, they are letters that “everyone can read.” Paul even talks about them on the level of recommendation letters…how interesting! Recommendation letters attest to credibility, they confirm identity and ability, and point to competence. For us to be these letters we must allow the Holy Spirit to write on our hearts and remember that anything we accomplish this year will not be because we are awesome, but because God is the competent one. This is how we become letters from Christ to the world, so that all may see his power, credibility, and presence.

So my letter to my brother is the only thing that allows me to crawl into that jail cell. Perhaps, we are the very design through which God wishes to crawl into the darkness of other’s life.

Allow yourself to be written, allow yourself to be published.