Our sights are set on love each Valentine's Day. We recognize it, we cherish it, and we celebrate it. We shower our beloved with gifts of flowers, jewelry, or candy. We create memories through special nights spent together.
Cost is no concern because the love we have is priceless. We declare our devotion, love, and faithfulness to each other. However, in this magnificent and emotional celebration, is it possible we've forgotten something?
On days such as Christmas or Easter, it is easy to remember God—He is front and center on these religious holidays. On holidays such as the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving, we readily remember Him. We sing "God Bless America" and "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." We acknowledge His provision for us and our forefathers. Yet, how many of us can honestly say we remember God on Valentine's Day?
Are we just supposed to revel in human love each Valentine's Day? Or is there a deeper and richer celebration to share with your Beloved?
God created love and then gave it to us to enjoy and to share. He created love in all of its pure forms—romantic love, brotherly love, parental love, familial love, and sacrificial love, and gave them all to us as gifts.
Knowing our need for the tangible, God goes a step further. Just as you might present your beloved with flowers as an expression of your love, God has presented us with expressions of His love. Seeing these special expressions can help us see the depth and permanence of His love for us. They give us something to remind us of His love when it seems so distant. They warm our hearts with blessed assurance when our hearts seem cold. They give us confidence in His fidelity when our hearts are so prone to question it.
What are these expressions of love? What Valentine's Day gifts have we received from God? Too many to count…but here are a few.
Have you ever stood at the foot of a mountain? I don't mean a little one. I mean a real mountain. I am from southern New Jersey—flat as flat can be. Once, I traveled to Salt Lake City, arriving at night. The next morning I walked out the front door and was stunned to see a huge mountain at the foot of the driveway! The darkness hid it from me, but the morning light revealed it in all of its enormity.
Perhaps you've stood on the shore of the sea. Perhaps it's been the edge of the Grand Canyon. In any case you were probably like I was—breathless and speechless.
Why is that? The enormity of what our eyes behold is too much for our hearts to take in. We cannot process the beauty or the significance of such vastness.
Pause there for a moment. Happy Valentine's Day! Dwarfed by what we see, we are reminded of our Bridegroom Jesus—the lover of our souls. His great hand created the heavens and the earth. His great love calls us, His Bride, to rule over them (Psalm 8:6). Though He is mighty and holy, He cares for you (Psalm 8:4). The vastness of His creation is surpassed by the depth of His love for you.
Go now from the vast to the miniscule. The immensity of the universe is built upon the predictable and always consistent order of individual atoms. Working perfectly and reflecting ingenious design, we marvel at the simplicity. At the same time we marvel at the complexity of what we find in the minutia of creation. The detail of a cell or a strand of DNA. The structure of the microscopic. All too difficult to process.
Pause. Happy Valentine's Day! The signature of Jesus found in creation's immensity is also upon each microscopic molecule. He cares for the sparrow and the strand of DNA—are you not worth much more than they? (Matthew 6:26).
Eating is necessary in order to continue living. Procreation is necessary for the survival of humanity. Have you ever noticed, though, that eating and procreating are generally very enjoyable events in our lives? Food is an event, and good food is a great event. (In fact, my wife and I can recount our entire honeymoon by where we ate each day.) Physical intimacy is something that we experience not only for the continuance of our race, but we also enjoy it for our own pleasure and the pleasure of our spouse.
A good God gives food to sustain us and a means of continuing our own existence through children. A great God creates these things in such a way that they are pleasurable.
God enjoys when we enjoy the pleasure He's created for us. God-honoring pleasure is all around us. We see it in a rose; we feel it in the cool fall air; we taste it in an apple; we touch it in the heat of sand; we smell it in spring; we hear it in the birdsong; and we think it as we ponder it all. His love has made the enjoyment of all these things possible. They are Valentines to help you know how personal His love is for you. God has provided all good things to you for your pleasure to serve His good pleasure (1Timothy 6:17).
Some of the greatest expressions of love are those that come at a cost. Several years ago, my wife's grandmother passed away. During the visitation time, there were many unfamiliar faces to me. However, one will always remain with me. A stranger entered the room, and immediately my uncle began sobbing nearly uncontrollably. This man was a life-long friend who flew from Texas to New Jersey for no other purpose but to comfort my uncle. His presence meant the world to my uncle. Its meaning was amplified by the inconvenience he went through and the cost he was willing to incur to extend this gift.
In our time of need, God sent His Son to us. Christ accepted the great cost of willingly releasing His glory and taking on human flesh. Without Him, we would have perished. So why did God do it? Why did God offer His only Son to certain death? We are told over and over again:
"Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13).
"See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God" (1 John 3:1).
"We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us" (1 John 3:16).
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." (John 3:16).
Pause. Happy Valentine's Day! It is this expression of love, this gift of a Son, that enables you to love. It enables you to know and love God. It enables you to love another.
God, the Giver and Creator of love, is the source of your love for your wife, your husband, your parents, your children, your friends. God, the Giver and Creator of love, holds you as the object of His love. He gives you many expressions of His love.
This Valentine's Day, celebrate love like you've never celebrated it before. Love your spouse, your family, and your friends more deeply as a thank you to God. Love your Savior and your King more deeply. See His love for you all around.
From the heart of God your Father and Christ your Bridegroom, let the words resound and take root in your heart: Happy Valentine's Day!
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