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Sunday, February 11, 2018

God's Everlasting Valentine


Valentine’s Day, a day that celebrates love in honor of St. Valentine and his brave stand for love and marriage in a time when doing so was forbidden, has become ingrained in the culture of the United States.  The florists, card companies, and the merchandisers make sure of that.  For someone who has recently suffered a divorce (as well as those who have never been married or who have lost a spouse to death), it can be a difficult day instead of one filled with joy.  

If you are a person who, instead of looking forward to the celebration, you are wrestling with what to do to take you mind off of it all, perhaps this blog might have some ideas for you.

There is, naturally, a genuine sadness and grieving that this holiday can foster, when one you loved has passed away, or when one you loved has rejected your love and turned away.  The holiday reminds you of a love you once experienced and cherished, but a love which is no longer part of your daily life, except through memories.  If the one you loved passed away, then nostalgia, longing and loss may make the memories bittersweet.  If the one you loved turned against you through divorce, the memories may bring pain and rekindle difficult feelings of rejection and betrayal.  

Not much of a celebration for Valentine’s Day, is it?

In worship today, as we discussed the biblical concept of love,  we recalled together the words of 1 John 4:8 stating that God is love.  

Isn’t it interesting that in self-definition, God did not choose the words Judge, King, Law Giver, All-powerful, or many other attributes of God?  

For a defining of God’s essence, the revealing of God found in scripture is that...
...God is love.  

There are other descriptions of God, but very few in the formula stating what God is….though another passage also states that God is light. Wouldn’t it make sense, then, for Valentine’s Day, to turn to the very source of the essence of what love truly is, to God himself?

A couple of verses I particularly like are Jeremiah 31:3b and Lamentations 3:22a, which (in ESV) say, respectively,

I have loved you with an everlasting love;
    therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;

In the second passage, the term steadfast love is a Hebrew word that is translated several other ways, including “covenant loyalty,” which I also like when thinking about God’s love toward us as his people.  In a world of fickle and shallow love, a world in which those we love and who love us can suddenly be lost to us through death, it is a wonderful thing to realize that God’s love is everlasting toward us, steadfast, never ceasing, and his faithfulness continues forever. 

So here is my simple suggestion.  If you are feeling blue in anticipation of Valentine’s Day, consider choosing to use the day to remember and celebrate the highest, purest, strongest and most enduring love you will ever experience:  the love GOD has for you.  Search through the scriptures to find passages that describe God’s love for you, and let their teaching soak in as you absorb the love of God into your heart and being.  Look back over your life and recount for yourself some of the experiences in which God has revealed his love to you.  Stop and reflect on the fact that even the most loving relationship any of us experience here on earth is but a poor shadow of the great love God has for us as his children.  Maybe even pick up a Valentine’s card that expresses some of your love for God that you could read for God in prayer, or find one that images well for you what God might write into a Valentine card for you!  Better yet, write both of those yourself from scratch. 

Then, make a Valentine’s date with God, the love of your life.  Have a nice dinner together.  Sit and visit with God, pouring out your heart to him and open yourself up to a fresh experience of his love.  It might just be the best Valentine’s Day you have ever had!  Just one more verse to close with, from the love poem in the Bible, the Song of Songs---

He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.—SOS 2:4

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