“Happy Singles Awareness Day!” the newscaster blurted out through the car radio. It was the first time I had heard the expression, which made me laugh and nearly spit out my coffee. I thought about it all the way to work that day – it seemed a clever way to try and ease the tension that some experience this time of year.
As a single person, I actually like Valentine’s Day (and being single). I enjoy watching my married and romantically involved friends relish in the fragrant bouquets of flowers and roses their husbands, boyfriends, or hopefuls had delivered to the office that morning. If our hearts are willing, whether married or single or somewhere in between, when gifts are received with a heart of gratitude, the day can be festive for everyone. And for some of us, that gift might simply be the gift of laughter. “For this is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24). And all of us can be thankful for the side effects of Valentine’s Day: the office smells a lot better and there is usually enough chocolate to go around for everyone.
Still, the pleasures quickly fade. Within a matter of days, the flowers begin to wilt until only thorns and a puddle of red petals remain. Though the gift was temporary, it was meant to serve as a reminder of the lasting love of the one who sent it.
Each Valentine’s Day, as I survey the naked thorns and fallen petals, I am reminded of another day and another gift. Jesus, the Son of God, compelled by His great love for us since before time began, came to earth to give us the gift of Himself. Two thousand years ago, as He hung naked and dying on a cross, a cruel crown of thorns fell crimson drops of blood onto a thirsty, sin-cursed ground.
Yet remarkably, Scripture teaches that Christ’s sacrifice served as a pleasing aroma to His Father, “Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:2) Why? Because, just as the sweet fragrance of roses reminds us of someone’s love for us, the sacrifice of Christ reminds us of the Father’s boundless love for the whole world. Yet, unlike roses, which quickly fade and fall, never to return, Jesus’s gift, when received with a heart of gratitude, lasts for eternity. The glorious proof and promise is demonstrated in His resurrection from the grave!
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has caused us to be born again into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade— kept in heaven for you…you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for all flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” (1 Peter 1:3-4, 23-25, selected)
This Valentine’s Day, as you survey the flowers and candy and plastic hearts, remember to take some time to ponder the imperishable gift offered by the eternal Lover of your soul. While flowers and chocolate are temporary, the gift of Jesus will last through all of eternity, forever reminding us of the infinite love of the Father who sent Him.