Tues­day morn­ing, Octo­ber 291957

Dear­est Family,

Every­thing is back to nor­mal this week. …after the wed­ding cake broke into two pieces….This is about all for this time. Want to get the let­ter in this afternoon’s mail. Love to each of you. 

My Grand­moth­er Park­er typed her let­ters on onion­skin paper using car­bon paper so she would have three copies – one for each of her chil­dren and their fam­i­lies. We received a let­ter from Grand­moth­er Park­er almost every week for over 25 years.

Over the years her method of mak­ing copies changed from car­bon paper to mimeo­graph machine to Zerox” copies but the tone of her let­ters nev­er changed. Today our fam­i­ly keeps in touch through Insta­gram, Face­time and email. We still share the impor­tant moments in life with one anoth­er. And like Grand­moth­er we share the good and dif­fi­cult times as well as a deli­cious recipe or a gar­den­ing tip.

In 1930 and 1931, Frank Laubach wrote let­ters to his father from the island of Min­danao in the Philip­pines. Frank Laubach shared the impor­tant moments of his life with his father. Excerpts from these let­ters were com­piled into the lit­tle book Let­ters by a Mod­ern Mys­tic. Laubach’s son tells us that his father wrote the let­ters at a time when his life was at its most dis­cour­ag­ing depth.” What we see when we read the excerpts is how Frank Laubach learned to speak with God, lis­ten as God spoke to him, and live respond­ing to God as a vio­lin responds to the bow of the mas­ter.” He learned all of this in the midst of his ordi­nary life. 

I do not know how Richard Fos­ter and James Bryan Smith were able to choose what excerpts to include in Devo­tion­al Clas­sics and what to let the read­er dis­cov­er lat­er. The lit­tle book is a gift of grace. Through his let­ters Frank Laubach encour­ages us to exper­i­ment with con­fi­dence unde­terred by fail­ures as we live moment by moment with God.

Laubach found the beau­ty of the world around him filled with the pres­ence of God as though God was writ­ing let­ters in the sun­set or clouds or water­spout. In some excerpts that were not includ­ed in Devo­tion­al Clas­sics, let us share Laubach’s dis­cov­ery of a world jam-packed with God.

Jan­u­ary 261930

Is not this mar­velous sky a para­ble! Open your soul and enter­tain the glo­ry of God and after a while that glo­ry will be reflect­ed in the world about you and in the very clouds above your head.”

April 181930

As nat­u­ral­ly as a preach­er she replied, God is every­where around us and in us if we only open our eyes. All the world is beau­ti­ful if we have eyes to see the beau­ty, for the world is packed with God.’”

Sep­tem­ber 21930

Far off in the mid­dle of the lake, a long per­fect water­spout stood like a colos­sal pil­lar from the clouds to the splash­ing water. It was the first per­fect water­spout that I have seen from sea to sky. Above my head those angry black clouds turned into glo­ri­ous gold, from the hid­den sun. But it was not this that made the evening won­der­ful. God was speak­ing. …Then out of the skies there came a silent voice, Your black clouds give the sun its chance. It is sur­prise, it is escape from dark­ness to light that makes life so rich. Your prison is also your paint box from which all the beau­ty you know is pour­ing. Lanao, where you now sit, is one of the most beau­ti­ful cre­ations in all the reach­es of space. And here you have the priv­i­lege of open­ing eyes to see beau­ty, which oth­er­wise would not see….The most beau­ti­ful thing in the uni­verse for you is Lanao stretch­ing around this lake at your feet, for it con­tains the beau­ty of immense need.”

Sep­tem­ber 211930

Our search for God through nar­row straits has brought a sud­den rev­e­la­tion, like an explor­er who has just come out upon a lim­it­less sea. It is not any par­tic­u­lar­ly new idea but a new feel­ing, which came almost of itself. Today God seems to me to be just behind every­thing. I feel Him there. He is just under my hand, just under the type­writer, just behind this desk, just inside the file, just inside the cam­era. …It seemed so won­der­ful­ly true that just the priv­i­lege of fel­low­ship with God is infi­nite­ly more than any thing that God could give. When He gives Him­self He is giv­ing more than any­thing else in the universe.”

Octo­ber 111931

Know­ing God bet­ter and bet­ter is an achieve­ment of friend­ship. …How is it to be achieved¾­by doing things togeth­er. The depth and inten­si­ty of the friend­ship will depend upon the vari­ety and extent of the things we do and enjoy together.”

In her lit­tle book, Cling­ing, Emi­lie Grif­fin tells us that we must cling to the One who holds eter­ni­ty in His hand, who will not per­ish in the end, and who has pow­er to save us, too: the One who knew us before we exist­ed, in whose thought and by whose hand we exist from moment to moment. He chose us and shaped us from our mother’s womb to be inti­mate with Him. This inti­ma­cy is what we were made for.”

This is a dis­cov­ery we must make for our­selves. We are invit­ed into an inti­mate fel­low­ship with God. The whole uni­verse speaks to the glo­ry of God if only we will open our eyes to see. So the Psalmist sings, The heav­ens declare the glo­ry of God; the sky above pro­claims his hand­i­work.” We have only to open our souls and receive grace upon grace. And Emi­lie goes on to say, By cling­ing, then, we come to know that heav­en is not only lat­er on, but some­how already begun, and that the king­dom is at work in us with a silent green­ing, shoot­ing up like spring while there is snow still on the ground.

I am grate­ful to my grand­moth­er for spend­ing hours typ­ing let­ters to her fam­i­ly on her Under­wood Elec­tric Type­writer. I won­der if she sensed God just under her hand or under the type­writer in every key­stroke. I imag­ine that she saw the glo­ry of God in her beau­ti­ful camel­lia blooms and rec­og­nized how God cares deeply for beau­ty as the Cre­ator. I imag­ine that she felt God with her as she pulled the lit­tle red wag­on to the ele­men­tary school to deliv­er soup and home­made bis­cuits to the chil­dren with­out lunch­es. She taught me to see the world around me. She taught me to trust Jesus. As I look back through the bound vol­umes of fam­i­ly let­ters I see her friend­ship with Jesus through the things she did with Jesus. Through their let­ters Grand­moth­er Park­er and Frank Laubach encour­age me to live all my wak­ing moments in con­scious lis­ten­ing to the inner voice, ask­ing with­out ceas­ing, What, Father, do you desire said? What, Father, do you desire done this minute?” (Jan­u­ary 20, 1930 – Frank Laubach age 45; Grand­moth­er Park­er age 27)

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Excerpts tak­en from Let­ters by a Mod­ern Mys­tic by Frank Laubach.

The pho­to­graph of the sun­set was tak­en by Joe Davis, a mem­ber of the Ren­o­varé Britain & Ire­land Min­istry Team.