The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Does God send postcards?

It seems everyone is reading The Shack by William P. Young. I was introduced to the book by my husband's daughter-in-law, Judy, who has a restaurant in St. Ignace, Mich., near where we spend the summer. When we visited one weekend, she was encouraging everyone to read The Shack and wished she could give me her copy — but she'd already lent it to someone.

That afternoon I went window shopping in downtown St. Ignace. I wandered into a jewelry store and there on the counter was a display of The Shack.  I rarely buy a book but thought, "I'll buy this and read it this weekend." The salesperson said it was a great book. I went back to Judy's restaurant and began reading.

Most people meet God in the last half of The Shack. I met him in the very beginning. There are several parallels between this story and mine. My only child, Matthew, had recently died. A daughter, Missy, died in the book. Matthew lived in Portland, Ore. So did Missy. Matthew died when he slipped on the ice, hit his head and never regained consciousness. Mack, Missy's father, slipped on the ice while heading to his mailbox. Mack received a postcard from God. Let me tell you about the "postcard" I received from God.

Matthew was a chef at a hotel in downtown Portland. He had to go to work early on a January Sunday morning. Because there had been a terrible ice storm that weekend, he decided to take the train instead of drive. The train stop was two blocks from his house. At the train platform, he apparently slipped on the ice and hit his head. He'd been carrying a backpack, but when he was found it was missing. He was without identification, and it took detective work to learn his identity. I was in Florida when the phone call came early Monday morning, and I gave permission to remove life support. I spent the rest of the day making arrangements to fly to Portland.

That night I couldn't sleep. I picked up the book I'd been reading, The Postcard by Beverly Lewis. I'd read a few of Lewis' books about the Amish and liked them, but I didn't like this one. Not the story. Not the writing. But as a distraction, I decided to continue reading it.

Now, I have to tell you Matthew had been raised in the church and had graduated from a Christian elementary school and high school. He was a young man of faith. But as so often happens, he'd drifted from regular church attendance.

The haunting thought in the back of my head was, "Where was Matthew in his relationship with God on Sunday?"

As I picked up The Postcard, I had to backtrack to find out just what the Bible verse reference was that was written on the postcard. I flipped back through the pages and there it was — Philippians 1:6.

I picked up my Bible and found the passage, found God saying to me, "I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ." And in the margin was the note I'd written long ago, "Matthew's confirmation verse."

Yes, God does send postcards.


Check out this week's articles:

cover2Open up: (right) Want to reach out? Start by talking about God in your life.

Twin Cities welcome '09 assembly.

With spiritual ears wide open: We listen to God through others.

Off to the assembly: But first a few words about other news.

Also: A living hope.

Also: Seminaries respond to economic crisis.

Also: Christian Zionism.

Read these articles at our front page ...

Discuss outreach

hendershotAug. 4-11: Join Dana M. Hendershot (right), pastor of Christus Victor Lutheran Church in Naples, Fla., to discuss outreach to the "spiritual but not religious."

Consider reading "Open up" before joining in.

Join the discussion ...


Tell us: 'Mixed' marriage

Decades ago, a Lutheran-Roman Catholic marriage didn't always meet with favor. But in an increasing number of ELCA congregations and for many Lutheran-Roman Catholic couples, times have changed. If you are Lutheran or Roman Catholic (or formerly a Catholic), tell us your experience.

1. What made you decide to make a Lutheran church your faith community? Or have you made another arrangement?
2. What about your church makes this the right fit for you as a family?
3. What has this adjustment meant for you, your spouse or anyone else in your family?

Respond with 300 words maximum to julie.sevig@thelutheran.org by Monday, Aug. 10. Include your name (and your spouse) and the congregation/city/state where you worship.


Tell us: Bible verses that made a difference

What Bible verse made a difference in your life and why?

Please explain in 250 words or less. Include your name, the Scripture (book, chapter and verse),  your congregation (provide town and state) and your e-mail address or phone number.

Send to: The Lutheran magazine, attn: Elizabeth Hunter, 8765 W. Higgins Rd, Chicago, IL 60631; e-mail: elizabeth.hunter@thelutheran.org.

Deadline: Sept. 1

This week on our blog:Julie

Julie Sevig (right) asks "How will you change the world?"



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