|Photo by Patty Colmer 2007|
Saturday, February 6, 2016
Soon the world will celebrate Valentine’s Day, with sweethearts offering roses, candy, jewelry, lingerie, or other gifts to the one they love. Children give anonymous cards to their school crush; adults may write beautiful poetry or flowery prose expressing their affection; and some proclaim their love boldly in the newspaper or even on the scoreboard of a sports stadium!
Many couples enjoy romantic evenings or getaways on February 14, and it is understandably a very popular date for marriage proposals or weddings. At our Rhapsody Ballroom one year, two couples got married on Valentine’s weekend!
The traditions underlying the holiday are unclear. Although it is named after St. Valentine, it may be because he helped soldiers (who were supposed to remain single under the rule of Emperor Claudiius) get married in secret, resulting in his being put to death. Others say that while in prison, he fell in love with the jailer’s daughter who visited him and wrote her a love letter signed “From Your Valentine.”
Others claim that Valentine’s Day dates back to a pagan Roman holiday on February 14, the Feast of Lupercalia, honoring the Roman goddess Juno who was the goddess of women and of marriage.
Regardless of its origins, any reason to tell and show our spouse or betrothed that we love them is a good reason (Ephesians 5:25-32; Proverbs 31:26-28; Song of Solomon). But whether married or single, all can enjoy the blessings of the greatest love of all. And no, I don’t mean learning to love yourself, as proclaimed in the Whitney Houston song!
Greater love has no man than to lay down his life for His friends (John 15:13). Jesus Christ, Son of God, did that for us when He willingly left the joys of Heaven to wrap Himself in human flesh (John 1:1-14). He was born as a humble babe, lived the life of a servant (Philippians 2:5-8), and died an agonizing death on the cross, to be the perfect sacrifice to reconcile sinful man with Holy God (2 Corinthians 5:18; Ephesians 2:16; Colossians 1:20).
Even more amazing, His love was so great that He did this not when we were His friends, but when we were still His enemies (Romans 5:10; Colossians 1:21), rebelling against Him because we were still children of the devil (John 8:44). But the greatest love story of all time does not end there, for He proved His divinity by rising from the dead on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
Now all who trust in His death, burial and resurrection as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6) have the greatest gift of all – the gift of eternal life in Heaven with Him and with our loved ones who have trusted Him (John 3:16; 1 Corinthians 15:51-57). That gift is so beyond priceless that it defies description! (2 Corinthians 9:15)
Even better, that gift begins at the moment we are born again (John 3:3-8), with abundant life in the here and now (John 10:10), joy in our Lord (Psalm 35:9; Isaiah 51:11; 61:3), and peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7).
Like the suitor whose love is pure, chaste, and sometimes unrequited, God loved us long before we ever knew or loved Him (1 John 4:19). He loved us from before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4), and predetermined then that those who would trust Him would be saved and become children of God, ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20) and joint heirs with Jesus (Romans 8:16-17), and part of His Church, the Bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:25-32).
God even wrote the best, most complete, and perfect love letter – His Word. In the Bible He expresses not only His great joy in us (Zephaniah 3:17), love for us (John 3:16), and plans for our future together with Him (Jeremiah 29:11), but He also packs it full of description about His character, faithfulness, holiness, and power. He even gives us a wealth of practical wisdom (e.g., Proverbs), much as a Captain away at battle would write to his wife at home, guiding her at a distance.
Whether we know Him or not, all good and perfect gifts come from Him (James 1:17) – the wondrous planet on which we live (Genesis 1); the air, water and food that sustain us; the sunlight and rain (Matthew 5:45). And for those of us who are part of His bride, the spiritual blessing we experience of His mercy, grace, comfort and guidance (Lamentations 3:22; Psalm 119:105; 2 Corinthians 12:9; 1:3-4) by far surpass any Valentine’s gift any human could provide.
Sometimes we hear His whispered words of love in a passing breeze, a bird song, the heartbreaking beauty of a sunrise or a violet lifting her face to the morning light. Far more valiant than a heroic knight of old, He has freed us from the shackles of sin (Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:18) and rescued us from the depths of despair and death (Psalm 30:3). He has clothed us in His garments of salvation and robe of righteousness, like a bride adorns herself with the jewels given by her Beloved (Isaiah 61:10).
Flowers fade almost as quickly as chocolates are eaten (at least in my house)! Over the decades, Valentines and love letters crumble and turn to dust, jewelry tarnishes, and trinkets may break, get lost, or be stolen (Matthew 6:19).
But God’s Word and His love last forever (Matthew 24:35). He is faithful, true, and cannot lie (1 Corinthians 1:9; Revelation 3:14; 22:6; Titus 1:2). He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5); we can call on Him 24/7 knowing that He will hear and answer (Hebrews 4:16); and one day He will return to bring us forever to Himself! (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)
I wrote song lyrics, “His Love For Me,” and my husband and I choreographed to them for our dance ministry, attempting to portray how His love is unfailing. I pray it will bless you, and that not only on Valentine’s Day but on every day of the year, may we remember His love for us, which truly is the greatest love of all!
© 2016 Laurie Collett