Tag Archives: Outcome

The Letter of Our Lives

Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone.
2 Corinthians 3:1-2 (NIV)

Wherever you find kindness, love, and generosity you will find those willing to take advantage of that kindness, love, and generosity. In the day that Paul was writing his letter to believers in Corinth, the followers of Jesus had gained a reputation for being generous toward those marginalized by the society of that day including lepers, widows, and orphans. They also had a reputation of taking up collections for traveling teachers like Paul.

It wasn’t long before con men and teachers with selfish intent began making the rounds. The result of being swindled was that these local gatherings of Jesus’ followers would expect traveling teachers to bring a letter of recommendation from someone they knew and trusted. Eventually the con men began forging those letters of recommendation and it became an on-going problem.

Paul picks up on this situation and uses these required “letters of recommendation” as a word picture. The believers of Corinth were his letter of recommendation, Paul argued. The “proof” of Paul’s ministry was the changed hearts, the transformed lives, and the growing spiritual maturity of those in Corinth in whom Paul had invested his time, teaching, and mentoring.

This morning I’m pondering this metaphor of our very lives, and the outcomes of our lives, being a letter read by everyone around us. When people look at the outcomes of my life, my words, my actions, and my relationships what are they reading? What does my life “recommend” to others? And what’s does my influence on others “recommend?”

Yesterday I went on site with our client and ran into a young man who’d started on the front line of their sales and customer service department. I trained him from his first days on the phone and coached him for a number of years. He was promoted to another team I worked with and then got a promotion to field sales. I haven’t seen him for years. He happened to be in the home office yesterday and when he saw me his face lit up. Unexpectedly he came over and gave me a big hug. It made my day. It was rewarding to know that my coaching has made a small contribution to his success.

I sit here in my hotel room prepping for another day of coaching. I’m reminded of the “letter” I’m writing in myself and others today. I want it to be a positive letter of recommendation.

Hope

The_Vision_of_The_Valley_of_The_Dry_BonesThey say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them….”
Ezekiel 37:11b-12a (NIV)

Over the past year, the news on the Vander Well home front has been less than encouraging. Late last summer my mother was diagnosed in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. In February of this year my dad was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a treatable but incurable form of cancer in his bone marrow. This past Sunday dad told us that, based on the available data and the doctors’ formulas, they guesstimate that he has around 3.5 years left in this life journey.

As I read this morning’s chapter, I found myself identifying with the groans of the Hebrew exiles. There are times in life when we feel dried up, cut off, and without hope. But, the point of today’s chapter was God’s response which was to provide a word of hope. To an exiled people who had seen more than their fair share of death, God delivered through Ezekiel a message of homecoming, resurrection, and life.

I have known many who have battled terminal illnesses over the years. I have observed that one of the key differences in outcomes is determined by simple differences in attitudes. I am reminded this morning of God saying, “I have set before you life and death. Now, choose life, so that you and your children may live.” I recognize that there are stretches in each of our life journeys when we are free to choose to focus on despair and hopelessness, or to choose to focus on life and hope.

I pray that I always choose the latter.