Like many of you, my personality is challenged by several contradictory natures. One of them is that I like to write and read a good, clean romance, but when it comes to real life, my practical nature doesn’t allow me to fully enjoy the art and beauty of things “romantic.”
Because of this contradictory nature, I have a hard time fully appreciating Valentine’s Day, which at its best is a celebration of the romantic kind of love that occurs between a man and woman who have committed before God to “become one flesh” in a covenant that lasts a lifetime. Most of the time, I take the cynic’s view of this holiday, meaning I see it more as a creation by the flower and card industry to drum up business after the let-down of the Christmas buying season.
But, romantic love aside, there is a kind of love that supersedes anything we mere humans can achieve on our own, and it is available to any one of us, as long as we are willing to ask for it. I am referring, of course, to the love of God, manifested in the life and sacrifice of Jesus, that is made available to us through grace. Once we accept that love, nothing we can do or say or think can ever truly separate us from the connection to God His love provides.
Paul describes God’s love for us and the kind of love we should work to provide to each other in 1 Corinthians 13. This love is patient, kind, humble, slow to anger, seeks truth, and keeps no record of wrongs. Paul concludes, this love “always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (v. 7).
As humans, how can we achieve this kind of love for each other? We can’t. We can only hope to achieve a pale reflection of this kind of love through the power of the Holy Spirit in us. In fact, the more we are truly able to lean on God, the more He will be able to work through us to show this kind of love to others through us, and the more WE will truly feel God’s love in us.
The first Beatitude tells us that those who will have the kingdom of heaven must first be poor in spirit, which most understand to mean we must first feel how truly empty spiritually we are without God in our lives in order to actually let Him in. Once we do, the love that helped Moses lead his people to a promised land, helped David slay a giant, and saw Jesus through a suffering He didn’t deserve but was willing to take on for the sins of everyone else, will be available to we who seek Him.
Paul promised us the lasting power of that love in Romans 8:38-40: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
So, as you celebrate the romantic love of your life this Valentine’s week, don’t forget about the love that never fades. God is truly the only ONE who knows everything about us–and loves us anyway!