Not long after Christmas, I’d open the box, break apart the cards, fish out the envelopes, and begin addressing valentine cards to my classmates. I forgot how we all got this right; I only remember that on the appointed date of the class valentine day party, each elementary school student was to bring a valentine for each of the students in their class, no exceptions allowed.
That made for some awkward moments.
If it was bad enough that I had give my least favorite teacher a card; it was even worse that I fill one out for the annoying girl who spent recess chasing boys all over the playground. I didn’t want these people to be my valentine, and I had a feeling that the guy I had enjoyed plastering in yesterday’s game of dodge ball didn’t want to be my valentine either. Still, rules were rules: a valentine for everyone; everyone a valentine; no exceptions.
God works that way.
In his letter to the Roman church, Paul writes: Christ died for the wicked at the time that God chose. It is a difficult thing for someone to die for a righteous person. It may even be that someone might dare to die for a good person. But God has shown us how much He loves us — it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us! (Romans 5:6-8, Good News Translation)
Such a love is hard to ignore.
It’s the kind of love that promises to do whatever it takes to free people from their muck, wash them off, and make them over. It’s the sort of love that puts a soul right for choosing to live on its promise. It’s a love that finds us when we are lost, and then gives us the directions we need to stay found. Such love forgives us over and over, refuses to condemn us for knowing better, and gives us the heart to love from God’s own good and beautiful heart.
On this year’s calendar, Lent begins four days after Valentine’s Day. The feast day of a saint whose heart was given over to love serves as overture to a season of giving ourselves over to the God who so loved us, He sent His Son into the world, so that all who believe in Him might not perish, but have eternal life. Lent is a season to open our lives to the truth that Christ has a valentine for everyone, and that everyone is His valentine. No exceptions.