Many of you know that I am divorced; have been for over 2 years now. And no, I am not dating anyone. But, what you may not know is that I still celebrate Valentine’s Day. Now, I’m not a fan of all the commercialism that goes into Valentine’s Day in general and at one time I said that this was a holiday created to fill the pockets of the candy and flower companies and to make men have just one more important date to forget. While this may be true, I’ve since decided that it sounds a little cynical and narcissistic so I’ve stopped defining Valentine’s Day in that particular sense.
However, I do send snacks and Valentine’s to school with my boys and I do my best to attend their parties and take pictures of their days. In that sense I do give in to the commercialism quite a bit. We put a lot of thought and energy into getting all of their Valentine’s addressed to the right kids and making sure we have that “perfect” small token for teachers. We decorate boxes for their Valentine’s from their classmates to go into. Although, this year we cheated and bought already made mail boxes from Wal-Mart!
But, when I say I celebrate this day what I mean goes so much deeper than the obligatory flowers, candy, and chocolate. I mean that I celebrate love. Real love. True and unconditional love. The 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love. That kind of love is only found in Jesus.
Several years ago, I want to say 3 years ago but don’t hold me to that, I started a new Valentine’s Day Tradition. Just for me! I figured that everyone else is mostly going to celebrate love with their spouses or significant others so why I can’t I celebrate the One who made true love possible?
So for the last few years I have sat down and watched Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ”. Now, that sounds a little intense, and it is, but it is also necessary. Can you imagine giving your only child as a sacrifice for everyone else? Can you imagine being the one true king and treated as a terrorist or cult leader? And then being crucified for your beliefs.
God loves us so very much that He sent Jesus to die a brutal death upon a cross just so we could have eternal life in Heaven. It makes me question, what would you be willing to do all for the name of love?
Could you stand there and listen to people mock you without returning a response? Knowing that you are of the purest people, could you watch a murderer be released into society knowing that the person who’s being released should be you, and voice no retort?
Could you stand there and take 39 strikes across your back with whips? Not just any whips, the ones with shrapnel and sharp pieces of glass affixed to the edges. The whips that are flung out and, as they reach their target, twisted so that the sharp pieces dig deep into flesh.
Could you allow people, soldiers, gladly doing what they’ve been told to do, people who hate you to the very core of their being, place a crown made solely of thorns upon your head? And not those tiny thorns you find on rose bushes but those giant thorns that you see on trees. The ones that are several inches in length and maybe a half-inch in diameter at the base. And not just setting it on your head but placing it firmly, shoving it, so that it stays on and cuts through to the skull. Would you tolerate that without once screaming out in pain?
And then there’s the nails. Not the little nails you use around the house but long nails, wide nails. Ones large enough to be used in a railroad tie. Maybe 6 inches long if not longer. Could you willingly lay down on that cross and allow people to hammer and beat those nails through your hands and feet into the wood making up the cross? Could you find the strength to stay there, nailed to a cross, without remark?
And in the end, could you find the strength to say, “Father, FORGIVE them” and mean it?