Once we flip our month-to-month calendars from January to February, thoughts of red hearts and Valentines liven up the winter doldrums. But when I returned from England recently, I was greeted by the lights of our Christmas tree. I hadn’t had time to dismantle it before racing off in mid-January, though I did box up everything but the tree. It had still looked and smelled fresh, and I knew its lights would be a warm welcome home.
The morning after getting back, I studied the still-pretty tree in the pre-dawn darkness of an early jet lagged morning. What a shame to take it down. And then I thought of February… and hearts. Although I have a plastic bin filled with red decorations, I hadn’t opened it since we’d lived in the Chicago area, 3 Valentine Days back. And suddenly I wanted to take a look.
When I opened the bin, its red hearts seemed to say, “Unpack us, and spread the love!” Right on top was a bag of red heart-shaped light-toppers meant to snap onto a string of tiny white lights. I began pulling Christmas ornaments from the tree, leaving the wintery ones: snowflakes, snowmen, mini-sleds, icicles, and anything with a heart on it. When I popped the red toppers onto the tiny white lights, and voila! We had a Valentine tree!
As the bin emptied, the cottage took on a red-heart glow. I reminisced about the fun of decorating at our old house with the children and felt like a kid again myself. When I’d finished, “love” radiated from every room.
God enjoys decorating, too, and after Christmas and Easter, Valentines Day surely must be his next favorite. He’s placed heart-shaped decorations throughout his Word so as we read it, we’ll feel his love radiating from every page. To quote, “God’s love is unfailing; his love reaches to the heavens; he directs his love to us; he delivers those he loves; he is forgiving and abounding in love; his love stands firm forever; he crowns us with love and compassion; God is love.”
In hundreds of love-expressions, God lets us know what he thinks of us. When I hear people say they aren’t interested in a relationship with this God, I’m astounded. Why would anyone turn from such potent love? Instead we often substitute conditional, full-of-holes human love that disappoints and devastates.
Only God’s love can perfectly fill the love-need within each of us. He knows us completely but loves us still, no one individual more than another. As a matter of fact, he loves us even as much as he loves his own Son, proving it by surrendering Jesus to death for our sakes.
The hearts scattered about my house are rinky-dink compared to the true love of God, but they’re a reminder that he loved me before I even knew him. And now that I know him, I have the immense privilege of loving him back.
“We love him, because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)