The Days of Snail Mail

28 Aug

“But that ye also may know my affairs, and how I do, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things:  Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that ye might know our affairs, and that he might comfort your hearts.” (Ephesians 6:21, 22).

When Paul wrote the above words, mail was definitely defined by the snail, as Tychicus not only reported on Paul’s doings to the Ephesian church, but he carried the book of Ephesians on its initial rounds around the congregations who awaited it.

What is amazing to me about the slowness of the mail in those days is its absolute reliability . . . eventually.  I mean, God is sovereign and His Word eventually got to the ends of the earth, even in that day, but it seems as though the young church kept pretty well-informed overall, despite the slowness of the mail.  Those Roman roads were pretty helpful in their day!

What about us today?  Are we lots better informed and less confused due to our multiple means of communication?  I would say “no.”  That is where another lesson in grace-filled living comes in.

I have two work e-mails, two personal e-mails, sometimes used for work, and a Facebook page.  I have a home phone, an office phone, and a cell phone.  You can just tell that I am set up for multiple points of failure, right?

Having lived in the low tech days and now in these new ones, I sometimes still have “transitional fears.”  I once dreamed that one of my parents died and I didn’t hear about it till after the funeral!  That dream showed how much I sometimes really do fear “not getting the word.”

On the other hand, that really, truly almost happened to someone this week.  Let me change the names to protect the players in this situation, but just say that a family member died.  Another family member e-mailed someone out of state, who happened to be the deceased’s sister.  That person also left a message on what was believed to be the sister’s cell phone.

I am also out of state, so when I asked whether this particular sister was coming to the funeral, 48 hours after the death, I was told, “She hasn’t responded, so we guess not.”

Something didn’t feel right about that, especially due to the fact that I myself have the aforesaid bunch of e-mail accounts and phone numbers, so I got online and found a home phone number for the deceased’s sister.  You guessed it!  She hadn’t yet heard about the death.

All that to say, we practice grace-filled living with each other because every single one of us has times we don’t keep up with our e-mail, or keep the same cell phone number forever, or notice the message light on the phone.  If we assume, when someone doesn’t respond, that there is a perfectly logical reason they haven’t responded, we extend to that person the same grace we would hope to receive in a similar situation.

This doesn’t just apply to extreme situations like funerals.  I can’t count the times that I have been aware of Christian brothers and sisters upset with each other because someone supposedly didn’t respond in a timely way or with expected actions.  At such times, we extend grace to each other because Christ has extended so much grace to us, and because we will be the person in need of grace the next time!

The Ephesians patiently awaited Tychicus in their day.  Let’s patiently stand shoulder-to-shoulder in mutual support as we all grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (II Peter 3:18).


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