Sunday, September 2, 2012

Love Letters: Part 2

This is part two of a series of letters that Josh and I wrote to each other during the semester before we got engaged. To start at the beginning, go to Part 1.

Josh, as he looked when we met in the fall of 2004. Love that hair.
Also, you can't really tell it, but he was all of about 120 pounds here.

January 19, 2004 (It was actually 2005)
Dear Stacy Leigh,
I hadn’t planned to write you two days in a row, but I am missing talking to you so much that I had to. I knew if I didn’t write then I would break down and call. I just hope that this letter is as encouraging to you as it is to me. I’ve read your letter probably a dozen times. I keep hoping that somehow you will just jump out of the page and talk to me. Crazy, huh?  
I wanted to talk to you about the comment you made on Slack’s xanga the other day. You asked the question, “Which is more deceitful, the security of being at home or the glamour of being far away?” 
First off, you never told me that you have thoughts of the mission field! You continue to amaze me! Got any other tricks up your sleeve? 
I don’t know if I’ve told you about this, but when I was first called to ministry, I thought it was a call to the foreign mission field. I had dreams of going to some unreached people group and laying down my life. My hero was Jim Elliot. I wanted to go to the middle east. That is why I did that independent study of Middle Eastern History in high school.  
I remember talking to my dad, telling him about my sense of call. Every time we talked on the subject, he would say to me, “Maybe God is calling you to be a pastor that will launch missionaries around the world?” I would brush it off everytime. The last thing I wanted to be was a pastor. I wanted to go to Egypt or Jordan, not Hardin, Kentucky.  
It was sometime this summer, I’m not sure when or how, but God changed all that. Now all I want is to be a pastor. Still, I want to do missions. I’ve thought about doing the journeyman program, but I don’t know what’s going to happen.  
I don’t know your story, but when I read that comment of yours I couldn’t avoid the shared ground we have. In all honesty, it scared me. You scare me. We are too much alike! We compliment each other too well. I know I act all confident and sure around you (for example, my last letter), but I get scared too. I get nervous about this risk I’m taking.  
Here’s a poem I wrote after we first started talking:
The Scarred Heart 
The pulsating jolts speed their rhythmic pattern
every time I am near her
in body, in sight, in sound or thought.
Each jolt initiates old wounds
which speak from the grave
about the confidences of their origin
and the foolishness of hope.
“But, what if? “What if?”
says the scarred heart.  
If I wasn’t invincible, I would really be concerned. Philippians 4:6-7, right? The peace of God shall guard my heart and mind.  
Truly yours,
Joshua Caleb Hutchens  
P.S. I never did give you copies of your tickets and some how they ended up here in Louisville. so, I’ve inclosed copies here for you. You will always be an offender to me. ☺ [Note: He was talking about speeding tickets. Yes, I once got two speeding tickets at the same time. It's a long story.]

January 20, 2005
Dear Stacy Leigh,
Yes, this is my third letter in three days. I really hadn’t planned on writing this much, but since classes are just starting, I still have a lot of freetime. Please, don’t feel pressure because of the frequency of my letters. By next week I’ll be busy again and won’t write as much, and I know how busy you are. Whatever letters I do receive will be more than enough for me.  
It was so, so, so wonderful talking to you on MSN last night. When you told me that you pray for me, I was nearly moved to tears, and I do not cry. I want you to know that when I say I pray for you, I am not just throwing out words, I mean it. I really do pray for you. 
Back in November, I was talking to Tyler about you over the phone. We ended that conversation that night by praying for each other. Tyler prayed for you also, and while he was doing that, God challenged me on something. 
Since even before that October 31st night that we went to Hardee’s and hung out at Kory’s house, I had been praying about you. I would ask God again and again for wisdom. I didn’t even want to begin to start anything with you if the Lord was not in it. I prayed over each and every phone conversation we had. I wanted so much to be wise in my every dealing with you, but that night on the phone with Tyler, God said, “Don’t just pray about Stacy Leigh. Pray for Stacy Leigh!”  
So, I listened. I ask God to do exactly what He longs to do, to meet you in your time of prayer and speak to you from the Scriptures. I tell Him to do the things I desire to do but cannot, to satisfy your every need, to heal your wounded heart, and to hold you tight to His chest. In Him, I want you to find your Beloved, your “One.”  
Then, if there is anything specific I remember you telling me about for that day, I pray for that. I pray for your ministry in AOII and then spend time interceding for your family. Only after praying these things for you do I pray about you, about our friendship and our future.  
If you’re ever up at 7, take comfort in knowing that you are being prayed for. Every morning around that time you can find me kneeling beside my bed talking with my Father on your behalf. You have nothing to fear, nothing to be anxious about. I promise you by the promise He has given me, there is no hunger, no circumstance, no thing in your life that is not already taken care of.  
Truly yours,
Joshua Caleb Hutchens 

The girl beside me’s phone (is that good grammar? I couldn’t think of anything that sounds better…) just started playing low rider in the middle of class. Good times.

So I was just praying for you… thanking God that he’s made me a hard nut to crack for both of our sakes, asking him to protect your heart, to give me wisdom and discernment in the things I say and the way I act around you, begging Him to not allow our hearts to be divided and our focus to shift to the other instead of being on Him.

I hope school is going well this semester and God really makes you a light to your co-workers at Hollister. To me, workplace evangelism is one of the hardest and most terrifying things. I’m such a chicken when it comes to evangelism anyway. If you want to pray for me, pray for boldness! I have a class with a girl who’s really been on my heart. She’s really wild but absolutely precious and God has given me an unexplainable favor with her. Ack! I’m such a chicken! Please pray for me and her. I’m the same way with another friend. I love her so much and there’s nothing I want more than to see her come to Christ but I’m so TERRIFIED of… what? I’m afraid of doing it wrong, I guess. I know, I know, the Holy Spirit moves and God is sovereign, but I’m still so cautious. Sorry, I didn’t intend on throwing that all out on you.

The message last night about God trusting us as adult sons but us not trusting ourselves is so true for me. I’m so scared of doing it wrong. “It” being everything involved in the Christian life. Dang, self, you really need to trust the power of the Holy Spirit more!

Man, okay, new subject. Sorry, this letter may be more for me than it is for you.

I’m looking forward to getting your first letter! ☺ This is both exciting and really good for me. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. If nothing else, not talking on the phone will protect our hearts a little more and give us good practice in self-discipline. It will be good… I’m sure of it. ☺

Until next time,
Stacy Leigh Browning

Sunday, January 23, 2005
Dear Stacy Leigh Browning,
It is now Sunday afternoon, and since Crossroad Church has no morning services, I have spent the last several hours alone in a quiet, vacant dormitory. It has been a blessed morning, which found me before the Lord laying on my face in a pool of my own tears and snot. Later in Colossians I would read, “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Having read much on the doctrine of Election yesterday for Theology III, I am confronted at my utter nothingness and the miracle that is my desire for Christ.  
After eating a small lunch in my room, I continued reading in “Shadow of the Almighty.” It is the required text for a book review in Intro to Missions. I read the book last as a Sophmore in high school, and look to it with new excitement as now I am Jim’s age and am experiencing much of what he experienced. There are many similarities between his romance with Elisabeth and mine own with you, the Supremacy of Christ, the uncertainty, and even letter writing.  
Some take Jim and Elisabeth Elliot as the prototype for Christian romance to be duplicated in the lives of all Christian singles. That is both foolish and dangerous, but there is wisdom to be gleaned from the experience of others. I will never try to be Jim Elliot, making you my Elisabeth. I am Joshua Caleb Hutchens, and you are Stacy Leigh Browning. We have our own story to write. We need not turn to plagiarism to live our lives. Instead we turn to the Author of All, the one who guided Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Rachel, Jim and Elisabeth, and will no less guide me and you.  
What we do take from the Elliots is an example of complete surrender, wreckless abandon before God. Jim calls attention to the lines of a hymn: “If Thou shouldst call me to resign, What most I prize, it ne’er was mine, I only yield Thee what was Thine: Thy will be done!” I have made it no secret what treasure I see in your eyes, but the Treasure hidden in the field is Christ. Beside that Treasure, all other things appear as dirty, lying fiends worthy only of being despised and rejected. I believe that the treasure in your eyes is a portion of the Treasure of the field, but until it can be attained as such, it is of no value to me. Furthermore, if ever its identity be shown as not being part of the Treasure, but of being one of these lying fiends, I will not hesitate to throw it out with the other worthless things.
Yet, I trust God in the wisdom He gives every time I ask. This wisdom says that the light of your eyes and brightness of your smile is that Light of the Word which was in the beginning. If I pursue anyone, it is Him, and I pursue Him relentlessly, just as He pursued me.  
Truly yours Christ’s,
Joshua Caleb Hutchens  
P.S. I apologize for what may be an over-seriousness in this letter, but while this is not light-hearted, do know it is said in joy.
Continued in Part 3...

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