It's that time of year again… the season of love… And with Valentine's Day just around the corner many of us are suffering from what I fondly call the "Valentine's Day Burden." What exactly is the Valentine's Day Burden? For some, it's the "I have to find the perfect card or present to express love to those special people in my lives." And for others, it's the "I must receive the perfect card or present to feel loved and needed by those special people in my life."
What a terrible burden to tote - and it's so unnecessary! Thankfully, this is the first year that I personally haven't fallen prey to carrying this needless burden. And to think, in times past, I was one of the very people searching endlessly through racks of Valentine's Day cards and token gifts, all the while hoping to receive something special for myself. How selfish! And what a waste of time!
Although this "burden" was motivated by true love and devotion for close friends and family, I had forgotten what was really important. I was knee-deep in thoughtful gifts and cards but completely miserable! But, as always, God was faithful to His promise of caring about every detail of my life. He lifted this burden without me even asking and in a very subtle way…
Some friends and I went to see the movie "Cast Away" with Tom Hanks a few weeks ago. The movie was riveting - and my eyes were glued to the screen as Hanks suffered through a plane crash, only to be left alone and stranded on a deserted island. In the midst of this tragedy, Hanks buried a man that had died in the crash. After he buried him, Hanks' character made this comment: "Ok, that's it," and he walked away.
It was all I could do to sit in my seat. My heart was screaming, "No! He's wrong! That's not it! There is more - Christ offers us so much more!" I began looking around the theater wondering how many of these people believed this seemingly harmless comment, and my heart grieved for those that didn't know the truth. "God will give to each person according to what he has done. To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, He will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger," Romans 2:6-8.
For days after I saw the movie, that comment haunted me. "Ok, that's it," was played over and over in my mind. The following passage also kept coming to my mind: "Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will also disown him before my Father in heaven," Matthew 10: 32-33.
God was using this to soften my heart in order to gently remind me of what I had forgotten - He reminded me of what is truly important in life -- that as a Christian, it's not enough to merely love your friends and family. We must love them as Jesus Christ loves us and we must share His love with them. "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" John 13:34-35.
As Valentine's Day draws closer, I am constantly reminded of the many people in my life that I dearly love who do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ. And now, I am able to see that it is useless for me to try and convey my love through worldly gifts while allowing others to miss out on the one true gift - Jesus Christ! "…and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law." Romans 13:9b-10.
The next time you find yourself caught up in the trap of the Valentine's Day Burden remember the description of eternity found in Revelation 2:3: "…Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death, or mourning, or crying, or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."
A gift as wonderful as this can never be purchased, or even found in this world! Planting the seed of eternal life through Christ Jesus is the greatest expression of love that you can ever give…. "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whosever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life," (John 3:16).