About two years ago, I came across a letter my grandfather had written to a man he met on a Walk to Emmaus. This is a weekend spiritual retreat that connects participants to the love and grace of God like nothing I’ve ever experienced. Both of my grandparents were instrumental in establishing these retreats. Each of them told me many times that they would love for me to someday go on my own Walk. Sadly, I didn’t do this until they both passed, but we will have lots to talk about when we see each other again.
In my grandfather’s letter, dated August 4, 1969, he wrote the following words of encouragement to his new friend:
“David, you will have a great story to tell. Your witness will be great and its influence will lead others to know Christ. I hope you will see fit to organize a small prayer group among your friends. I find that reading books by Ben Johnson, Keith Miller and others available at the Cokesbury Store is helpful in combating the adverse element that we must face every day. I especially recommend A Taste of New Wine and A Second Touch by Keith Miller. Doing this type of thing – writing personal letters is a rare thing for me – but I feel the need to communicate with others who know Christ.”
When I read those words, my mind flashed back to my grandfather’s bookcase in the spare bedroom. I thought I remembered seeing the books he mentioned. I Googled the titles, and pictures of the books’ covers popped up on Amazon. Yep! Those were the books I remembered. I ordered both of them and devoured them as soon as they arrived.
I soon discovered that Keith Miller described going through a period of spiritual frustration much like what I was experiencing at the time. In A Second Touch (p.30) Mr. Miller wrote:
“I sat down and said to myself: ‘I will not look for any results for five years, but will make my life an experiment played out to God alone. I will try to immerse myself and my ‘actions in relationship’ in the perspective of Christ, tying to move into His spiritual vantage point through study, prayer, and involvement with other people.’”
When my grandfather wrote his letter, I was 11 years old. I’m pretty sure he had no idea how his letter would impact the life of his granddaughter 46 years later. When the Holy Spirit prompted my sweet Pawpaw to write those words of encouragement, it excites me to know that the Spirit knew the exact day I would discover and read that letter! The Spirit even knew while Keith Miller penned A Second Touch, the effect his words would have on a little man living in Auburn, Alabama and a girl who would one day fight her own battle for freedom in Christ and feel led to write about it.
What if Keith Miller had let the worries and distractions of life hinder him from writing his story? What if Pawpaw had never selected those books to read, or written that letter? And who knows how that letter affected a mystery man named David!
That makes me wonder what things today might never happen if we don’t pay attention to the Spirit. Has He placed something in your heart you can’t ignore? Do you have a story to tell? Has God placed someone in your path who needs encouragement? Do your children and grandchildren know your stories of God’s faithfulness?
I never met the David my grandfather wrote to, but when I get to heaven, after some one-on-one time with Jesus, I’m looking for him and Keith Miller ! I’ve got some thank-you’s to deliver!