A Valentine to Be Treasured Forever
A Word of Encouragement from Elizabeth Rice Handford
You've stood before racks of valentine greeting cards, as I have, scrounging to find the perfect card for someone you love. You want a sweet card without being corny, with a heart-felt message without being sloppy, tender and personal without being too gushy or sentimental. Sometimes it's easier to let someone else to put down on paper the emotions that you truly feel but just can't find the right words to express. When we find the card that says this well, we're happy to plunk the money down, sign it, and give it to the one we love.
Perhaps, this year, you'll receive a valentine that expresses love so well you'll tucked it away in a corner of your heart to read over and over again.
But maybe this year your valentine mailbox will be empty. For many of us that will be true. I know I'll miss the loving valentine Walt always gave me year by year.
Oh, but listen! You do have a valentine from Someone who loves you beyond expression. It may be that you keep His valentine with its fine leather binding tooled in gold, with beautiful color pictures inside it, displayed on the coffee table in your living room. You may think of it more as a decoration than a personal letter. Maybe it's on your bed-side table, handy when you're desperate for God's help. Perhaps your love letter is on a bookshelf, gathering dust, because you didn't realize it was a personal letter from Someone who loves you more than life itself. That's literally true. Jesus loved you so much that He gave His life so you could have life. You'll find all expressed in the Letter He personally wrote to you. And right in the middle of that letter, about half-way through, the God who created you so He could shower His love on you, wrote this:
Long ago the LORD said to me,
"I have loved you, my people,
with an everlasting love.
With unfailing love
I have drawn you to myself."
Now that's a valentine to treasure. Sometimes we are not able to keep the promises we made with utmost sincerity to people we love. Age, sickness, circumstances or death may make it so we cannot do what we promised. But this is a promise from the Eternal, Holy God who always, always keeps His promises, the God who cannot lie. And He says He loves you with a love that will last forever. Then He paid the penalty for your sins so you could live with Him forever, so you can treasure this everlasting love He has for you.
Do you need to know that you are loved? The Word of God is your valentine, a valentine to treasure above all else, that promises you are loved forever. Why not take time to revel in God's love this Valentine's Day?
When God turned bad into good . . .
Mrs. Nelson's Glasses
A word of encouragement from Elizabeth Rice Handford
Mrs. Nelson was a pleasant, middle-aged woman who was head clerk in my father's Christian Book Store. I'd been assigned to help her during summer vacation. One day a woman came into the store and said, in great distress, "I need a Bible or something to tell me how I can go to Heaven. Can you help me?"
Yes, oh yes, I thought, I can help you. After all, that's the main reason Daddy has this store open!
I took her to our Bible display, picked up an inexpensive Bible with readable type and explanatory notes, and turned to John 3:16 and John 5:24. Eternal life, free, for the asking! MShe read the Scriptures eagerly, seemed to understand them immediately, and asked the Lord Jesus for salvation right then.
When she had left with her new Bible, I was so thrilled, I ran over to Mrs. Nelson and gleefully hugged her. I'm so glad I got to tell somebody about Jesus! But with my enthusiastic hug, I broke Mrs. Nelson's rimless glasses! I was distraught. I asked her to forgive me, but I didn't offer to pay for fixing them. My father would have done so, I'm sure, but I was too embarrassed even to tell him about the incident. Mrs. Nelson never brought the matter up again.
I graduated from college and married Walt. We moved to South Carolina. Mother and Daddy moved to Tennessee. Mrs. Nelson moved to Colorado. But I never forgot the niggling shame of Mrs. Nelson's broken glasses. Odd how something so trivial could continue to irritate my conscience, when I seem to easily forget my more serious offences!
Many years passed. One day-I can't even remember how it came up-I told Mother about that humiliating incident of my teen years. Mother said, "Well, write her and tell her about it."
"I can't. No doubt she's long gone."
"No, she isn't. She lives with her daughter Jerri in Colorado. I got a letter from her this week. Here's her address."
So I wrote her and expressed my sadness that I'd not even offered to fix her broken glasses. I tried to figure out how much the repair would have cost her, computed how much inflation and interest might have increased it, and wrote her a check.
Her daughter Jerri wrote back immediately. "Me read your letter. She couldn't even remember the incident, but she loved hearing from you."
Couldn't remember? When I had fretted about it for 30 years? No, she didn't remember it at all.
"But," Jeri continued, "your check was for the exact amount she desperately needed, so she thanks you with all her heart."
Good came out of bad! What a sweet illustration of God's promise in Romans 8:28:
And we know that all things
work together for good
to those who love God.
So yes, bad things have happened to you and to me. And yes, sometimes I've caused bad things to happen. But God's promise is that He can make bad things work together for our good when we love Him. Aren't Mrs. Nelson's broken glasses a sweet evidence of that truth?