Love, More than Skin-Deep

The date on the calendar is illustrated with profuse flowers, chocolates, and expensive dinner dates. Yet, many couples celebrating their love cherish little beyond individual needs or ambitions. A small minority have commitment that will carry through dashed dreams or great financial need. But there are a few:

Once a year it happened. Charles sang,”Let me Call you Sweetheart, I’m in Love with You” to Jean. The day arrived without fanfare, but it did not exit without the statement being made.

Charles came home from work on time and sat in his chair. With no announcement he would begin the song. Jean would hear the beginning words, drop the ladle, set down the pan, and quickly walk to the den to see her husband’s face.

Slightly off key in his low cow-calling voice, Charles would sing their song again loudly to Jean. His eyes looking up to catch hers over the two younger boys playing with trucks on the floor, past the teenage boy asking when supper would be ready. Ignoring the two girls arguing in the kitchen over who set the table and who opened the can of peas. Finally, over the black dog nudging his hand, the cornflower blue eyes would find hers.

Charles would smile his wide grin holding her eyes with his as he finished the song. Her navy blue eyes glistening with tears, Jean would smile back at him. Then, slowly turning and wiping her hands on her apron, Jean would walk back into the kitchen.

Without extra words, that valentine ritual confirmed the deep bond of love between the man and woman. No extra money for a dinner at a restaurant. No fresh flowers and no chocolates were given. No reprieve from feeding and raising children. No special gift other than the thought of remembrance and a song sung with a smile.

Perhaps the best Valentine’s Day gift of all is to sing a love song when you are not a singer; to express deep love and commitment to another in midst of the circumstances.

My love would look at me awkwardly, so would our children if I broke into a song proclaiming my feelings for them. In fact, I can’t remember when I last sang my deepest affection out loud.

Remembering Charles and Jean, I wonder if I have placed emphasis on surface level actions. Am I looking for and giving the wrong gifts to the ones I love?

Holy One, you are the originator of this deep emotion, love. I have to admit, I still don’t understand why you would want to have a fickle human adopted into your family. Yet, I believe you do, or you would not have sent your only son to take my punishment. In accepting your most costly gift, I long to be more like my Giver. Help me, Lord to express delight and commitment to you and my other loves.

I admit when life is busy or depressing, I don’t listen for your encouragement that you still love me. That you have a plan for me. That you like me and think I am special. That you are walking beside me and will not leave me whatever happens. Instead, I hear my own fears and questions.

Dear God, are you singing your song of love and commitment to me, and I haven’t been listening? Please help me to interrupt my constant motion and listen for your tune.

In the squawk of a BlueJay

Chirp of the Robins

Squeak of the fan motor

Bubbling of the pond fountain

Rustle of the Mimosa tree seeds in the breeze

Laughter of the children next door

Are you singing your love to me though the world you created? Help me to listen and respond back to you with devotion. May I bring a sparkle to your eyes because I radiate and sing your love back to you and those around me?

“The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in His love He will no longer rebuke you, But will rejoice over you with singing.” Zeph 3:17

“By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me…” Psalm 42:8

“You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” Psalm 32:7

“…Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Eph. 5:19b,20

So here I go…it could be a hum or a whistle. May I start with you and then go to the other cherished gifts you have given me….

“Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father, There is no shadow of turning with Thee; Thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not; As Thou has been Thou forever wilt be. Great is Thy faithfulness!…” ***

***Song by T.O.Chisholm and William M. Runyan

Father’s Gift

What do you give someone who has everything?

I mean everything: all the gadgets, jewelry, tools (he even invents), books (too many to count), and clothes don’t seem to matter to him.

When a holiday comes, and you long to please the father who spoils you constantly, then you realize whatever you can think of that he might enjoy, he already has.

When you want to give him some token that shows what his love and protection has meant, you are left feeling more like a brat, more ungrateful, and more selfish because you have nothing to offer the loving father who adores you.

So, what is the one item you can give your father that he does not already have?

You.

You can offer the gift of your personal desires to be yielded to his hopes for you.

You can give your hands to do the work he needs done rather than the work you want to do.

You can offer your mouth to tell the important things he has completed instead of speaking about your own achievements.

You can schedule time to be with him learning what he values and talking about all the ways you appreciate him.

You can show him that you paid attention when he corrected you by changing your actions.

What can you give the Heavenly Father and God of the Universe that he would enjoy?

Only yourself.

All Powerful God, you have given me life, loved ones, work, possessions, and opportunities. All that I have and all that I am that is worthwhile has come from your resources.

As my gift to you, Holy Father, help me to evolve so that I reflect your generosity, love, and forgiveness. This “child” is tired of demonstrating irritability instead of reflecting your personality. In the name of your son, Jesus Christ and according to his will. amen

“Yours, LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours…” 1 Chronicles 29:11a

“As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.” Psalm 103:13

“Every good and perfect gift is from above coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17

Bible verses are taken from the New International Version unless otherwise noted

Alternate Reality

Please help me, Holy God. My whole world has changed overnight!

The future I had already pictured in my mind is dashed. People are horribly sick with many dying. The economy that I trusted and thought was unstoppable is bludgeoned. Good people walk around with haunted faces wondering what they will do without a job. Children peep out behind their parents warily looking about for the danger that is keeping them inside. Although I am still living in the same world, everything is different… I feel like I am sinking in quicksand.

But you, My Lord, are the same. You do not change. You are all powerful. You have the ability to be present anywhere while we are stuck to one place in one time period.

You, Perfect One, know all things. You are The Creator and Designer of humans and the world. You understand intricacies that our scientists have not discovered. There is no end to your knowledge or the reach of your hand.

Almighty God, as my feet struggle to support my weight on this shifting sand, I come to you asking for light on this depressing path.

What I do know is that you are Holy and Just. Your personal quality of holiness means you cannot have anything to do with people who do wrong, and I have done many things I know are wrong. But I confess those wrong things to you, so my condition will change from sinful to godly.

I come before you asking for help in the Messiah’s name claiming my status as your child because of Jesus Christ’s payment for my wrongs. Please help me, Father, to look up to you for the help and hope I need.

“The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand.” Psalm 37:23,24 NLT

“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock, and gave me a firm place to stand. ” Psalm 40:2 NIV

Thank you Lord, that you are always faithful and never forget your promises!