February is when we see red everywhere - red roses, red boxes of chocolates, red clothing. Everything adorned with a red heart or ribbon in celebration of love. Love. It has been the theme of many a book, movie and song. Men and women have craved it and others have died and even killed in the name of love. Despite all the writing, singing, dancing and all too often agonising over love, it still seems to elude so many.
But what is love?
The Bible is filled with many romantic love stories – Adam and Eve; Abraham and Sarah; Ruth and Boaz; David and Abigail. Romance is defined as a feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love. In our modern society, it seems as if we chase after this feeling.
Romance is often linked to the short-lived; affairs and liaisons that all too often are abandoned and which very often leads to great emotional hurt.
However, God in his great providence defines himself as love.
"And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them." (1 John 4:16) He is the source of love. It thus makes sense to go to the Father and not to the World to find true love.
God loves us with a love that goes so much deeper than the romance and that physical attraction between two human beings which we feel we need to make us feel whole.
Our great God lavishes his true love on his children and promises that nothing can separate us from this love (Romans 8:38). He also urges us to, "do everything in love," (1 Corinthians 16:14).
With God we can have a never-ending romance. There is a different and pure exhilaration of obediently loving God. Knowing God and having the privilege of loving the one who is love, is the most enthralling experience of all.
But what of the passion you say? Yes, we cannot omit the issue of passion.
Well, Jesus’ prelude and suffering on the cross was called “the passion’ aeons before the sexual or romantic connotation. It was the way of self-denial. The love that Jesus demonstrated is a hard act to follow – it is the way of pain and sacrifice often accompanied by ingratitude.
Yet, we are called to love this way.
Jesus commands us: "Love each other as I have loved you" (John 15:12).
There were no fuzzy feelings on the cross, but steely determination to obey the Father and a resolute mind-set to accomplish the goal, the salvation of mankind, because "God so loved the world..." (John 3:16)
So this Valentine’s Day, whatever your circumstance – single, married, about to be married, on the brink of divorce or anywhere in between, be encouraged that the God who made the universe is a God of love. And he loves you.
What an incredible privilege to be a child of the living God and to be a partaker in this. May you be love to a hurting world this day and for the days to come. In the end, "the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love" (Galatians 5:6).