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ABC's on My Heart
Photo: Linda DuBose
Long ago, when for many, paper and postage fees were an expensive luxury, receiving a letter was an event and sending one was taken very seriously. With very tiny, even script, line upon line, every bit of space on each precious sheet of paper was uniformly filled, both front and back. The very dedicated then turned their papers 90 degrees and continued to write on top of, and perpendicular to what they had already written.

Imagine the time and effort that went into writing such a letter. Imagine the thrill of receiving such a masterpiece, knowing fully the cost for paper, postage, and the time spent. Imagine holding in your hands and reading this evidence of love, labor, and devotion.

Throughout the ages letters have held special value. One fine writer, Paul, thought highly of letters. His prolific hand describes a particularly valued letter with a slightly different twist. “You,” he said in a message to his beloved Corinthians, “are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody” (2 Corinthians 3:2). Imagine that, being a “letter” known and read by everyone. Someone had to write that letter… but who and how?

As a parent, when I look at my children and realize that in many ways, they are a “letter”, known and read, I can’t help but ask myself, “What have I been contributing to these letters? What have I written on the hearts of my children? What have I written there for others to read? What does God read? Does he see a skimpy note, a hastily scribbled memo, a patchy paragraph? In my hectic world of scurry and run, what could I write that would be most meaningful and most lasting?”

Parting words of a long-ago father come to mind—words from one Father passed on to his children. “These commandments that I give you to today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children” (Deuteronomy. 6:6). I see wisdom in this, but how do I do it? How will I ever have the time?

The words of this long-ago father continue with an answer. “Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road. When you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 6:7).

Little Moments

What is he saying? I think he is telling me to make the most of little moments; moments at a stop-light, moments in the grocery line, moments waiting in the car, moments before sleep, moments before breakfast, moments standing in front of the bathroom mirror.

Here’s an idea for using those moments. Take a look at Psalms 119. It is filled with words of hope, and courage, and longing… “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you,” the writer says. There it is again, getting those words to the heart but how to make them stick? Again this Psalm presents us with an idea.

In the Hebrew language, Psalms 119 is written as an acrostic poem—the type of poem where each stanza has a beginning prompt, one of a successive listing of the letters of the alphabet.

We can use a similar memory device to help ourselves and our children remember scripture. Imagine learning a verse for each letter of the English alphabet. That would mean knowing 26 verses!  If that sounds too big, you might begin with something smaller and perhaps even more meaningful. Why not use your name?

Try this. For each letter, select a verse that has significance for you. A name-acrostic could look something like this:

B – Bless the Lord, Oh my soul.  Psalms 103:1 

E – Every good and perfect gift is from above.  James 1:17

T – The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.  Psalms 118:7

H – He cares for me.  1 Peter 5:7

The next time you and your kids find yourself waiting in the car, waiting at the dentist, waiting for Dad to get home… do some penmanship. Work on the letters of your hearts. In filling empty moments with wonder-filled ABC’s, you will write a beautiful letter for all to read.

Need help finding verses for your letters?  At Focusonthefamily.ca/AtoZ you will find a downloadable PDF of the alphabetic Bible verses.

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By Rene Ammundsen. Copyright © 2010 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®.

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