August 3, 1971
Today you've made a decision that will change the course of your life. It's already begun, though you don't know it yet. You took that small walk this afternoon into the woods with someone you barely know and she helped you take a step off one path and into a whole new world.
Welcome, little sister. Welcome to this glorious new world. Welcome to this new life. Let me--ME--be the first to welcome you. Let me be the first to say, "It's okay to say, "Oh God!" when you're talking to Him." It's not taking His name in vain when you're so overwhelmed with what has just happened that you can do no more than simply say His name. In fact, little sister, it's the holiest response there is. He called you, you answered Him by saying "I want you in my life." Only His name is in your head in that moment. That's how it should be.
Tonight, you'll open that tiny New Testament you asked your mother to find for you to take to camp. Last night you opened it and the words were incomprehensible. Tonight, the most glorious miracle will be that they will make sense. That moment of discovery--that you can understand the word of GOD-- I'm here to tell you, will be a moment you will always remember. It's a marker, a true marker, that what happened in the woods was real, was for good, was forever. I Corinthians 1: 14, "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God." Those words, that moment, that beautiful WORD will be etched into you in such a way that you will hunger for it always. Take a moment tonight to thank God for the gift of such a grace, because it is a grace that He did such a thing.
The Life He's drawn you into is something you've been wondering about for a long time. At least that's the way it feels right now. It feels like you've been questioning the nature of the universe, what happens when you die, who you are, where you fit for years. And for this moment, all those questions are answered. The answer lies--for this moment--in the name you're still shy about uttering. But let me be clear about something without throwing water on this birth-day party you're having with your new friend Jesus (and Judy, who led you to Him). Those questions will linger. In the beginning, this life will be pretty simple, as it should be. You're a baby, after all. But you'll grow. You'll stretch beyond the limits of babyhood, and your Father will allow you to put that questioning mind to work again. Don't be afraid of that. Don't be afraid of your questions, doubts, and all the paradoxes, complexities and mysteries. You'll always have them. The Bible is full of them. You'll NEVER understand everything about GOD. What He gave you--what He'll increasingly give you--is a heart to LOVE Him, the Holy Spirit who lives in you who helps you hear Him, and the faith to trust Him.
You'll expect everyone to think the way you do. They won't.
You'll expect those who start the journey with you to stay the course. They won't.
You'll get your feelings hurt, you'll get offended, you'll think it's all about you.
But you'll grow up.
That's what I want to say to you this first day.
Let yourself grow up.
Let yourself love with abandon,
Be compassionate toward the suffering (because you'll be there soon enough)
Merciful toward the poor (because we're all poor compared to HIM)
and always just plain glad that you were saved by Him
that you put YOUR accomplishments into perspective..
Let it be your aim in life to give and give and give--
just for the sheer joy of it!
Don't worry about how many times you've been hurt,
or have to forgive someone. Just keep doing it and doing it.
No matter what they do, how they treat you, how they feel about you.
He already tore up the list of YOUR life--so don't keep lists about anyone else.
The thing is (as your earthly dad would say), this life you're beginning, is NOT about you.
It never was.
It's about Jesus.
It's about living a seamless life. You know what I mean by that, because you sew. I mean a life in there are no different compartments, nothing is segmented off. EVERYTHING belongs to Him. School and friends and family and your faith are all one.
Live a life worthy of the gospel, Little Sister Carolyn.
You have a great life ahead. I'm rooting for you. Praying with you...every step of the way.
PS. That tall across-the-street neighbor who'll pick you up after camp with his mom? When the car gets a flat tire and you have to walk down the country road for ice-cream, why don't you tell him about becoming a Christian? He's been one for just a couple months. And...someday, you'll both look back and remember that moment as the first moment of your life together. I'd really appreciate it if you could just do that for me. Please? I mean, I really wish I had when I'd had the chance...