3 Stars – Inspiring
Approaching life through the eyes of a child is to see the world with faith-filled hope. It is no wonder that when a child’s life is threatened by disease, we marvel at his or her ability to see the world clearer than we do as adults.
Children absorb what they know about life by watching others, and, in particular, their parents. They don’t know why the world operates the way it does, but they have an innate trust and belief that their parents and other role models can be counted on to tell the truth as well as live out the best life to which they have been called.
Adults on the other hand want answers for everything. Faith in the unseen is difficult. Experience leads you to understand that you can’t always count on people and loving others takes on a rationality that requires us to “trust, but verify,” to quote a former U.S. President.
Patrick Doughtie’s story, “Letters To God,” tells the story of an eight year old boy named Tyler Doherty (Tanner Maguire) who is stricken by terminal cancer. His beauty radiates as he demonstrates his enduring faith and contagious hope in God’s providence. The focus of the tale on the letters he writes to God expressing his hopes, dreams, and concerns for those around him.
This isn’t a modern day version of “Miracle On 34th Street” where a young girl believes in Santa Claus, but it does share the same childlike faith in something greater than ourselves watching over us. Tyler writes the desires of his heart and mails the letters through the U.S. Post Office with the same calmness and confidence that other children write to Santa Claus. In this case, the U.S. Post Office doesn’t know what to do with these parcels.
A young postal worker who is facing his own demons has to make the decision about what to do with the letters. Should he just throw them away? Some letters he delivers to a local pastor. Others he reads in order to decide what to do. While Tyler may have addressed the letters to God, each reader is affected as if they were written directly to them. What touches each person the most is that this young boy, whose troubles seem far greater than their own, has a faith and trust in the future that dwarfs their own.
Faith, as recorded in the Book of Hebrews, is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.” Each of Tyler’s letters is like a prayer shared with God, writing without the slightest concern about how God will get the letter or how God will handle the request. Tyler’s faith seems foreign to an adult in our culture, but its purity draws us in. We begin having the same heartfelt longing that all will work out well in our lives.
The difference between writing letters to Santa Claus and writing letters to God, is that it doesn’t take much exploration to find that there are millions of people who have written or said prayers to God and received extraordinary answers, bringing peace and love into their lives, or the lives of others, in a way they never imagined. Tyler’s letters to God had a profound impact on his postman, his family, and all those who surrounded him. I am hard-pressed to think of a story of Santa Claus ever delivering a transformed life in the same way.
So, what gets in the way of your faith? Do you need “proof” before you trust? Believing with the faith of a child may be the best Special Delivery letter you’ll ever receive.
Discussion for those who have seen this film:
1. People often find it difficult to trust because they were betrayed. Some stop trusting and other trust when they shouldn’t. Do either of these describe you?
2. The faith of a child is often seen as exemplary. Other see such faith as naive? What have you found to be the difference between being naïve and being trusting?
3. If you had been the mail carrier receiving these letters to God, what would you have done?