Tomorrow is the day of romance known as Valentine’s Day. But is it really a day for romance or is it a day for love? The widely accepted story of the origin of our modern celebration is not of a romantic love but an even greater love. St. Valentine was a priest in Rome who was executed for following his Christian belief and refusing to turn from his faith. The night before his execution, it is told that he performed a miracle by healing his jailer’s blind daughter, Julia. The jailer and his entire household became believers. St. Valentine is said to have written Julia a letter and signed it “Your Valentine.”
The love St. Valentine had for his Lord translated to the persecuted people under Roman rule. His commitment to God’s work and his compassion for others led to the miracle and to his letter. The first valentine represented a type of love that involved the will and the entire personality. Unlike the version of love today that is a spontaneous emotional affection.
Jesus told Peter that if he loved him he should, “Take care of my sheep.” (John 21:16) I grew up on a ranch and learned young that caring for animals meant seeing to all their needs. That is the kind of love Jesus wants us to have; a love so strong that we can see and care for others.
There is nothing wrong with the way we celebrate Valentine’s Day. Remember the kind of love it began as and pass that love on.
What are you doing to express your love to others?
One of my favorite stories in the Bible is I Kings, chapters 4 through 6 when the Israelites lose the Art of the Covenant to the Philistines. The Ark was the Israelites most treasured possession. It is what led them into the Promised Land. It is where their priests pray and their people worship. To the Israelites, the Ark of the Covenant was their connection to God. Without it they felt God had abandoned them. Nevermind they had disobeyed God and taken the Ark into battle where it was captured; they now pleaded for its return.
While they were mourning in despair, God continued to work. Where ever the Ark was taken, disease and death followed. The Philistines eventually became afraid to have it in their land and sent it back to the Israelites.
I love the fact that the Israelites did nothing to recover their beloved Ark but God returned it because of His love for them.
When you feel you have lost everything, read I Kings, chapters 4 through 6 and see how God doesn’t need your help to bring about miracles.
Have you ever felt like giving up on your faith? How did you restore it?
For those of you who have Facebook, you may understand the addiction. I check my wall nearly every day to see who has something to say. One thing I read on a friend’s post from Lovely Quotes of Love was, “We are not given a good life or a bad life. We are given a life. It is up to us to make it good or bad.”
At first, I thought, “How true.” Then I remembered those at the Soup Kitchen who struggle from one day to the next. They weren’t dealt the same hand we were. Or were they? We all have the freedom of choice. What we choose now will determine future options. It may be easy for us to brush others off by saying, “They made bad choices.” But we do not know their story or why they are in difficult circumstances.
Still, I believe the quote is true. We were given life. We do not have to settle for what we are dealt. We can improve our life by what we remember. “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8 NIV) We can make each day good or bad by what we fix our minds on.
I’d like to take one more step by adding a few words at the end, “It is up to us to make it good or bad for other people.” We can actually increase the joy in our lives by helping those who can use assistance. It can be by giving them food or clothing, or by giving them what every person needs; respect and encouragement.
Life is about decisions. What choices are you making today that will improve someone’s life?
My heart aches from an experience last night. I was going to prayer meeting at the church and saw a man I knew as Rod going through a box on the bench in front of the soup kitchen. I thought it may be a donation that had been left there. “No,” he said, it was a food box given to a homeless couple. He was delivering it for them. I froze. I had seen a couple sitting there a lot lately. The day before, I caught the man smoking pot and asked him to leave.
“Times are real bad right now for a lot of people,” Rod explained. “It is hard out here on the street.” He, too, was homeless but he had a bicycle he could transport their box with. “I’m just trying to do the right thing by helping.” He watched me as I fumbled for words. I was on the spot and he waited to see what I would do. I walked inside the church, allowing the couple with their dog to resume their place on the bench beneath the “no dogs” sign.
These are the type of people Jesus sought out to minister to. They need our acceptance as much as they need our hot meals and our bench to sleep on. They also need a bathroom, which is available at the gas station next door but someone has been using a convenient area behind the recycle bin. The dog left its own “presents” around the parking lot even after I previously asked the lady to clean up after him.
I joined my friends inside but my mind remained on the lady outside. She and her friend were breaking the rules. If I were in her situation, I would want my dog as a source of comfort. She never cleaned up after him, but she always looked tired and seldom spoke when spoken to. My autoimmune disorder leaves me very tired most of the time however I have a nice home to retreat to. I couldn’t imagine what her life was like. I couldn’t pray for her then ask her to leave when I knew she had nowhere to go. By the time I headed out to talk to her, three more men had joined them.
I waited for one of the women in the prayer group to go with me. We told them they could rest there but they couldn’t stay. “City Ordinance” we said. Hypocrite! That’s how I feel. I pray that I have another chance to talk with her. How I wish there was a shelter in town for the homeless!
Would you allow the homeless to camp on church property? What should I have done?