The two stories you are about to read are both painful and profound to me. Painful in that they are borne out of real life experiences. And profound in that, God was able to teach me something crucial about His heart of eternal love for me and you, as well.
VALENTINE CARDS AND THE UNTHINKABLE
I was 16 and “in love”! This was it. She was “the one.” I had bought her favorite food, lined up her favorite music, taken a shower (a big deal for a teenage guy), gotten a haircut, shaved, and to top it all off, put on cologne. I ironed my clothes and even put on dress shoes and a tie. I was smitten! I had planned everything down to the type of flowers that she preferred and the perfect time of day, sunset.
Nothing was left to chance. We had an incredible time. After dessert, I handed her a card that I had made myself with a beautiful original poem, thank you very much! She began to read it, looked up at me, and began reading again . . . and that’s when it all went downhill, and I mean fast!
You see, after she returned her gaze to the poem I had so painstakingly written, her eyes fell on a girl’s name, only it wasn’t hers. It was the name of another girl I was talking to while I was trying to write my girlfriend the poem. Note to ADD self: “Do not try to multitask! EVER!” It was truly an honest mistake. Unfortunately, my girlfriend didn’t see it that way, and I ended up with what was left of the food and drink on my clean-shaven, cologned face. One simple little mistake, and the whole evening was ruined!
PEANUT BUTTER ON A CARD SPELLS LOVE
Contrast that with another Valentine’s Day memory. I was in elementary school. I had made my first Valentine’s Day card. It was another handmade card with a poem and a picture. I got home from school and eagerly handed it to my mother. She looked at it with all its mistakes, misspellings, stains (PB&J), and imperfections and she loved it! In fact, to this day, she still has it.
God’s love for us
What’s the point? Simply this: Valentine’s Day is a time you can, and should, recognize that there is absolutely nothing you can do to make God, your heavenly parent, stop loving you. The Bible tells us “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son [Jesus], that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (New International Version, John 3:16, 17).
So today, as you’re doing your last-minute shopping, wrapping, writing, coloring, and cooking, take some time to write God a love letter to thank Him for sending you His very own Valentine’s Day gift, His Son, Jesus. I promise you that God will absolutely love anything you give Him. You are all He really wants. And I can guarantee that the only thing He’ll throw your way is more love, grace, and mercy!
EMPTYING HEAVEN’S PIGGY BANK
“Whoa, I love Legos! Man, I’d give everything in my piggy bank and my wallet for that set!” my 7-year-old shouted while jumping up and down with eyes as wide as saucers. When I recovered from whiplash and hearing loss, (my son gets a little exuberant), I realized that my son was, in his own way, expressing a profound truth about the nature of God’s love. The worth of something is determined by what another person is willing to pay for it.
My son was willing to give all his money to buy a Lego kit. OK, I’ve got to admit, it was pretty cool. Let me tell you a little something about my son. He doesn’t spend his money easily. He’s the only little boy I know who needs to comprehensively “research” an item online and at the store before he parts with his hard-earned “chore” and “birthday” bucks. This makes his reaction, the first time he saw that specific Legos commercial on TV, all the more amazing. I mean, he went OFF! The rest of the day, and for several days after that, he pestered me about buying the item online for him. He couldn’t get it out of his mind.
I want to tell you that this was Jesus’ response to you. He saw you and went OFF! He saw you and me and said, “Whoa, I love humanity! Man, I’d give everything for them . . . I’d even give myself for them!” (John 3:16, 17). Then He came to this earth, was born a helpless baby, lived a perfect life, and although innocent He died a criminal’s death. And he was raised from the dead—all for you and me!
This is the month of February. This is the month in which we typically celebrate love with perfume, poems, cookies, and candy. This February let’s do something really special. This month let’s celebrate with a cross! That’s right, you read correctly. I said a cross. Jesus said, “If any of you want to be my followers, you must forget about yourself. You must take up your cross and follow me. If you want to save your life, you will destroy it. But if you give up your life for me, you will find it” (Contemporary English Version, Matthew 16:24, 25).
Today, ask yourself this question. Is there anything in your life that’s more important than Jesus? What are you willing to give for Jesus? I’m sure glad that when He saw you and me, He didn’t decide that giving up His life was too high a price to pay. So in this month of love, let’s take some time today, and every day, to commit and recommit everything to Him who gave His all for us.