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)
A gathering. Laughter. Life. Love. Fluffy and light scones, jam and cream, tea – yes Devonshire tea. Daughters and Granddaughters together to remember a Mother, a grandmother. Much loved. Much missed. She would have loved it. Not just for the tea in the fine bone china cups but for the connection, the conversation, the sense of occasion.
Remembering is such an important part of life. To remember and to celebrate the good – the anniversaries, the milestones. And yes to remember those that are no longer with us. We do it as individuals, families and nations. We remember the victories, the accomplishments and the significant.
It is a habit that God encouraged His people to do. To create memorial stones at places of breakthrough and victory so that generations later would pause and remember what God had done. Seen at the place where they crossed the Jordon river. He created Feast days, so that His people would also remember and celebrate the victories. An opportunity to celebrate the victories of the past giving strength for the present and hope for the future.
It is good for us to pause and remember the testimonies of what God has done for us. The healings, the answered prayers, the breakthroughs. By doing this we continue to be more aware of God in our lives. We become more aware of His presence and nature. Remembering our testimonies stirs our hope and strengthen our spirit to keep on, knowing that our God never changes and is true to His promises. It keeps our expectation and our faith high.
“I have inherited your testimonies forever, for they are the joy of my heart.” (Psalm 119:111)
Being the summer holidays we’ve been having a lot fun and amongst other summer activities we have explored a lot of different playgrounds. No matter the playground though, it is only a matter of time before my 3 year old is calling out to me to “Mummy, look at me! Look at me!” His enjoyment at the playground definitely includes ensuring that there is an audience to watch the slide he will take or the monkey bars he will climb.
In the trials we walk through or even perhaps the mundane that we endure, I am sure that our hearts too sometimes whisper or cry out – “look at me!” Not so much. of course, for the reaction my son was after – the “aren’t you clever….brave….etc.” reaction, but for the knowing that God sees us. Sometimes too in the pouring out when no one else seems to notice or care our hearts cry out to be encouraged, to know that we are seen by God.
I love the story that Bobby Conner shares about giving a lady in her 80’s a prophetic word in front of thousands of people. One that the Lord had told him would give this lady’s life meaning and purpose. I could imagine the excitement – what noble, amazing word was going to follow?! But the word was simply this – “Yes, honey, I saw you picking that duck.”
To me, and I am sure to others who heard it at the time, and also to Bobby Conner, it seemed like a confusing and very underwhelming word. But to the lady it meant the world! On receiving it, she laughed and she cried and then she shared how decades earlier, as a young woman during the war, the only job she could find was one that had her on a dock plucking feathers from ducks to be used for military clothing. One day in desperation, she cried out to the Lord, “Oh God, do you even know where I am?”
And yes God did see and know!
God sees, God knows and God loves you!
You may feel insignificant, small or unimportant, you may feel unappreciated by those around you. But you, you are not unnoticed by and you are certainly not insignificant to God. He knows who you are and where you are. He knows your circumstances and what you are going through and He cares because He loves you.
You don’t even need to cry out “Look at me! Do you see me?” because His eyes are upon you, His grace is around you and His love is upholding you. In God you will always find encouragement.
“Because He turned His ear to me, I will call on Him as long as I live.” (Psalm 116:2)
“For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” (2 Chronicles 16:9)
At Christmas we celebrate that God came to earth as a baby. And while the world was sleeping, so few – some Shepherds and Wisemen realised that the birth of a baby in Bethlehem had all of Heaven rejoicing. For the plan, the rescue of mankind had begun.
God used the Heavens – a star and the angels to celebrate, to announce the birth of His Son as a baby, human on earth. On the black sky of night, Heaven rejoiced and the world slumbered. Love had arrived.
Love came down at Christmas for God is love – love is part of the essence of God, His nature. And as Jesus went from the cradle to the cross, He time and time again demonstrated and showed us love. Through His compassion, kindness and forgiveness and through His ultimate sacrifice of His life.
Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, love divine;
Love was born at Christmas,
Star and angels gave the sign.
There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:13)
At Christmas, we celebrate the birth of a baby. But more importantly we celebrate the coming of the Saviour of the World.
So when I see the angel decorations on my tree I think of the Shepherds who witness the Angels saying “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.” (Luke 2:14). And when I look at the star at the top of my tree I think of that star that led the Wise men to Jesus.
And when I think of Christmas, I believe Love came down.