The question of the day on Whirled Views at worldmagblog today was “Who do you love?” (Someone did point out that it should be “Whom do you love?” but I suspect that whom is going the way of thee, thou, and verily.) Some people started their list with God, and I certainly would like to say that He is at the top of my list, but I don’t know that my life bears that out.
I had made a special Valentine for my husband, using a kit that provided 100 Scrabble tiles and a card with a mini Scrabble-style grid inside, so that I could write my own message of love to him. (The grid was just large enough to allow me to include my 7-letter first name, so despite my aspirations to construct an intricately interlocking message, I ended up sticking with the rather prosaic I LOVE YOU, with LOVE and YOU sharing the O.) I bought a Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream bar for us to share (he can’t eat much sugar without getting sick).
I had bought Dove chocolate hearts, and included one in my son’s lunch today, along with a Valentine card. I had sent off a package to our older son last week, including a bunch of those chocolate hearts and a couple Little Debbie’s Valentine brownies.
But what had I done to express my love to God today? Not that He probably has any particular interest in cards, chocolates, flowers (as receptionist at work I delivered at least six flower arrangements to co-workers), or the other typical expressions of Valentine’s Day sentiments. I could say that there’s no need to do anything special to express my love for God today, differently than any other day (not that I do so well at it most days). But then, I could say the same regarding my love for my husband and sons – yet I went out of my way to do special things for them today.
I often find myself hesitant to say I love God because Jesus equates loving God with obeying Him, and I’m not sure I do so well at that. (My sins are generally those of omission rather than commission, and who can say how many opportunities to obey that I have missed because I was busy just doing life as usual.) I feel grateful to God, but is that the same as loving?
I tried to imagine making a Valentine for God, some combination of art and words, maybe a bit of poetry if an idea hit me. But somehow I could think of nothing appropriate. Even just trying to find some Scripture verses didn’t get me anywhere.
It reminded me of how I usually look through the displays of Valentine cards at the store, even though I often end up making my own. It’s amazing how many cards just don’t express what I want to say at all. Even some that come close have some lines that just don’t fit. For instance, many cards for husbands mention appreciation for how they fix things around the house. Jon has many good qualities, but the ability to fix things isn’t one of them. Perhaps that’s nitpicky, but I’m not going to pay $4 for a card that clearly was written with someone different in mind.
I often feel that way when reading the Psalms. People talk about using them in prayer, but I keep bumping into lines that don’t match my own experience. I like the praise expressed in Psalm 108, for instance, but that first line – “My heart, O God, is steadfast” – I can’t say that. I like Psalm 118 also (somehow I have been reading psalms ending in the digit 8 recently), but then I get to the lines about cutting down enemies in God’s name. I know some people spiritualize it to refer to Satan or to sins, but I’m pretty sure the psalmist had human enemies in mind.
Another favorite is Psalm 18, but it has both a line about being blameless before God, and others about destroying enemies. Perhaps one reason Psalm 90 is a favorite is because it doesn’t have either of those. Of course, it doesn’t say much about loving God either.
There’s plenty about God loving us. I’ve many times heard or read about how Jesus is God’s Valentine to us, His ultimate expression of His love for us. Our love for Him is simply a response to His love for us. (“We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19)
So perhaps I should stick with one of the few ideas for a Valentine for God that I found online. It was made for children to use, but I’m sure it works just as well for grownups.