For many Valentine’s Day is the opportunity to demonstrate their love for their significant other or those that they love in life – children, parents, teachers, friends. Love is demonstrated with flowers and cards, chocolates, jewellery even to name just a few of the myriad of options available to us. But before it became an international celebration sponsored by Hallmark, before even Chaucer in the middle ages began the tradition of courtly love, there was a man called Valentine.
Valentine, a priest in the 3rd Century, helped persecuted Christians and performed marriage ceremonies when marriage was prohibited. For this he was martyred. He demonstrated love and compassion for his fellow people and paid for it with his life. But if Valentine’s Day is about love, we must travel even further back in time, to before time even existed but where God resided.
For the origin of love lies in God. God who not only demonstrates love, but is love personified. And with God there is no unrequited love. For He loves us more than we can possibly love Him. His intent, love and heart is for us.
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1)
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
As we turned into our driveway, it seemed that my son and I noticed the length of the lawn at the same time. We had two very different reactions though. Mine was the obvious one – make mental note to talk to hubby about mowing the lawns! My 6 year old’s was to shout gleefully at the length of the grass and all the gorgeous flowers that seem to have appeared overnight – weeds really. He leapt out of the car and headed for the garden, appearing sometime later with a fistful of flowers for me.
In the vase on my window sill is now a bunch of yes, essentially weeds, but I’m going to go with saying wild flowers! Official garden sites though do list the clovers, dandelions, lawn daisies and hawksbeard that cover my lawn as weeds. Through my son’s eyes, these are of course flowers and couldn’t be anything else. And looking at these weeds through my son’s eyes I also see a pretty picture of purple, green and yellow flowers gathered and given in love.
How we are conditioned to see things affects our perspective on life. And it doesn’t just stop at weeds or flowers. The same can be said for us. Things that people have said about us or to us, knocks from life all colour how we see ourselves. We can find ourselves like Gideon, hiding scared in the wine press and wondering why God is calling him, the least of the least, a mighty warrior. We can see ourselves as a weed, while God looks at each of us as an exotic flower, a precious rose, a glorious sunflower.
It’s another occasion for me to learn from my children. My boys see endless possibilities as to what they can be when they grow up. From an architect designing the world’s tallest building, to a Doctor, a pilot, to yes a superhero. They have not yet heard the cry of the crowd saying no, it’s impossible, you don’t have what it takes. They just hear the beat of their hearts and dream unlimited dreams.
The way God sees us matters more than any thought that we’ve had or comparison that we have made about ourselves. It matters more than what others have called us or what they have said to us. Often we don’t hear what God has to say about us because the voices inside our heads, which derives value from the reward system of the world, clamors so insistently in our brains – Voices that say “They didn’t notice you”, “You weren’t good enough to be chosen”, “You will never make it.” We need to push those voices away and listen to God who finds us in the winepress and says Mighty Warrior, I need you to do something.
From now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new is here (2 Corinthians 5:16-17).
Nothing disqualifies us from who we are except the way we perceive ourselves apart from God. Instead of looking at our limitations or constraints, let’s focus on what we do have! We have Jesus’ approval, and that’s all we need.