Signed, Anonymous

We have an agreement, my husband and I. It became necessary early in ministry. If ever we received an ‘anonymous’ note in the mail or slipped under the church office door, I was to save it but not share it with my husband. At least for a time. Since I typically picked up and sorted our mail, 99% of all anonymous notes hit a very quick dead end.

Over the years, I can’t even tell you how many anonymous notes there have been, but it has been more than I can count on two hands. My best guess is that my husband has only asked to see one or two of them. What about the others? Some he knew about – eventually. Others, he has assumed existed, but he never confirmed his suspicions. So, the anonymous mail was typically saved for a time, and after a year or so it was thrown out. A few have been forgotten, but filed just because of the potential severity of the conflict.

Why didn’t my husband want to read them?

His philosophy is this - ‘If they don’t have the courage to sign their name to the note, then the contents of the note are not worth my hearing.’

And, how could I forget what was contained in those accusing and hateful notes?

My reality – ‘I don’t know the whole story, but I do know my husband. God knows the situation, and I can give it to Him and ask Him to help me to put it out of my mind.’ (And He always has!)

To some this strategy might seem irresponsible. But, with a little patience the issues are eventually resolved in one of two ways. Either the author’s temper will die down and the issue will no longer be important to pursue or the issue will become important enough that the author will identify themselves in order to be heard. In the meantime, my husband (and I) don’t develop ulcers or hold grudges. God knows who the author is, and God knows whether or not the issue is one that really needs to be heard by the pastor. 

There are other anonymous messages, however, that I love to be a part of, and I quickly share them with my husband! They are even defined as a type of triangulation, but the purpose and motive of this triangle is not to be manipulative or born out of laziness. Rather, it comes in the form of blessing others. 

It's the times when I've been called to the side on a Sunday morning to do some detective work. Do you know anyone who could use some assistance with their Thanksgiving, or Christmas, meal? We'd like to bless someone in the church family or community. I love these triangles, and whenever possible I'll willingly agree to get involved. (Just this past week, I was honored to make an anonymous delivery to a family with a Thanksgiving Food Box!) There are times when being anonymous is such a blessing and the end result is so much fun! It may take a little bit of energy and time to fulfill the wish, to coordinate the delivery and to share the follow up news with the one that started the ball rolling, but it is totally worth it! 

In the spirit of giving anonymously Matthew 6 gives us some great reminders of what our posture and attitude should be. “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it…in the synagogues…to be honored by others…when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (vs. 2-4, NIV)

Or, from The Message we hear this explanation of how our generosity should be lived out. “When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. Just do it – quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out.” God is the ultimate giver, yet we often don't recognize our blessings as being sourced by His hand. We must learn to follow His example in both generosity and humility.

As we enjoy ‘Secret Santa’ giving and other gift-giving celebrations, may we be reminded of the ways that God is working behind the scenes (yet, truly not anonymously) to bless and provide for all our needs. What a blessing it is to serve a God that has made Himself known to us in so many ways – through His Creation, through His Word and through the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ. The Messiah! 

We do not serve an unnamed God. Yes, He often works in mysterious ways! And, we may need to take time for quiet reflection to recognize His work in our lives. However, there is no doubt that all the good that we receive flows from the One who is able to sign all His messages to us with the sweetness of…

Love, I Am

(Exodus 3:14, John 8:58)


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