A Real Love Letter from the Grave
by Rick Stedman
“Rick, I’ve got a box of my wife’s old LPs in the garage. You want ‘em?”
My cousin was on the phone, talking about the 70’s classic rock records that his deceased wife had collected as a teenager. She had died suddenly years before, and the time had come for him to start giving away some of her treasures. Their kids didn’t want these records, so he offered them to me since he knew I am a classic-rock-LP-aholic.
Of course I said yes, and after arriving home I began to play them in the order I received them, as is my habit. But when I came to her Partridge Family and Brady Bunch albums, I just couldn’t do it—so I slid them to the back of the box. Finally, they appeared again and I had a choice: not listen to albums I knew I wouldn’t like or listen out of respect for the dead. I chose to listen.
And I found one of the greatest surprises of my life.
As I eased the Partridge Family LP out of the jacket, a few pieces of lined notebook paper fell out. I was shocked to realize that the hand-written pages contained lyrics composed by my cousin’s wife when she was a preteen, at about 11 or 12 years old.
The pages were filled with love songs she had written as a young girl, mostly pining and longing for romance in her life. They looked forward to love—who turned out to be my cousin. They literally were her feelings that came true in him, though at that time she didn’t know his name.
I felt like I was reading a real love letter from the grave.
So I called my cousin and told him of the find, which surprised and overjoyed him. I sent them to him, and he copied and sent them to his kids. Now wife and mother was speaking to those she loved most—from the grave. A few weeks later I got around to the Brady Bunch record (I had to steel myself once again), and was shocked to find even more pages and songs (which I again sent to my cous).
In hindsight, it strikes me that he had this treasure in his garage and never knew it. Likewise, he gave the LPs to me and I almost missed it. Thank God (literally) that I chose to listen to the records, though they seemed odd and unattractive to me at the time.
And the episode also reminds me of God. One of the biggest surprises of my life has been to learn that God has hidden Himself in plain sight in the oddities and wonders of life. From the very things we are most passionate about (ending human trafficking, protecting free speech, and so forth) to the things that are just weird (why is our secular culture so interested in zombies and superheroes?), the reality of God keeps appearing. As I looked inside the “jackets” of these cultural aspects (including music and the longing for love), I found reflections of His very character and nature.
In short, I’ve come to believe that life and the universe are filled with love letters from God—if we choose to look inside and learn how to decipher His writing.
Rick Stedman is the author of 31 Surprising Reasons to Believe in God: How Superheroes, Art, Environmentalism, and Science Point to Faith (Harvest House, 2017).
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