A Tale of Two Valentines

Once upon a time, in a hot and humid land faraway, there was a young lady who had completely forgotten that today is Valentines Day.  It was me, and such ignorance is explainable, because Brazil’s holiday of love takes place in June, not February, and 95-degree weather makes it hard to remember which month it is.

However, during the announcements at church this morning, none of which applied to me, I let my mind wander, and one of the rabbit trails it took somehow reached the date of February 14th and its significance.  This resulted in contemplation of my family, God’s love, and a delicious chocolate cake I made on Monday for a couple single girlfriends, which we had decided could be our early Valentine’s Day chocolate treat.  After a couple minutes, however, the announcements were over, so my attention returned to the songs and message, which were related to the three types of death, judgment, the return of Christ, and the end times.  Although God’s love can certainly be seen in those topics, there weren’t any warm fuzzies.

Sidenote:  To anyone from Bethel Church of the Nazarene (or any church), I am by no means endorsing the habit of not paying attention during announcements at your home church.  I do read the bulletin and pay attention to Mark each Sunday when at our church, because he has important things to say, which apply to me, and everyone else in attendance, and should be listened to carefully.  However, I will only be attending church in Manaus for one more week before leaving, so there is not enough time to get involved in ministry or Bible studies or small groups.

Now back to our tale.  After arriving from church, I checked to see if the internet had started working again after being on strike yesterday.  On Facebook, a smile jumped onto my face when I saw that my youngest brother had sent me a valentine.  It was a small red package tied with a bow, which unwrapped itself when clicked upon, to reveal a big thumbs-up.  It made me feel so special that he had thought of me, even from so far away, and taken initiative to show he loves me.   That was Valentine Number 1.

Late in the afternoon, when finding out about the opportunity to visit a friend in the hospital, I when to the grocery store to pick up some fresh fruit for her, since she has been hungry in between
meals.  Since my plan had been to stay here at the mission house, I wasn’t supposed to be walking down the main street at all.  But it’s a good thing circumstances changed those plans, because that’s where and when Valentine Number 2 was sent.

Walking past, in the opposite direction, was a Brazilian man wearing a shirallen-maye_ylnf-t_proof_-_Copyjht almost exactly like the one to the right.  The only differences were that the gray letters were black, and the font just a bit smaller.  And I just knew that this was no coincidence, but a valentine from my loving Heavenly Father.  It made me feel so special that He had thought of me, and taken initiative to show He loves me and is never far away.

I don’t know whose love the shirt-wearer was thinking of, if he even speaks English and knows what the words mean, but the only real Never-Failing Love is God’s.  And a song I love started playing in my mind and heart, renewing my love for God and the confidence I have in His love for me.

The internet connection isn’t strong enough to find and post a video, but here are the lyrics for you:

One Thing Remains, by Brian Johnson, Jeremy Riddle, Christa Black Gifford

© 2010 Bethel Music Publishing (ASCAP) /Mercy Vineyard Publishing (ASCAP) (adm. by Music Services)/Christajoy Music (BMI) (Admin by Bethel Music Publishing).

Higher than the mountains that I face
Stronger than the power of the grave
Constant in the trial and the change
One thing remains

Your love never fails, never gives up
never runs out on me

On and on and on and on it goes
It overwhelms and satisfies my soul
And I never, ever, have to be afraid
One thing remains.

Your love never fails, never gives up
never runs out on me

In death, In life, I’m confident and
Covered by, the power of Your great love
My debt is paid, there’s nothing that
Can separate my heart from Your great love

Your love never fails, never gives up
never runs out on me

Sp as I head into wild adventures and uncharted waters, God reminds me that whatever lies ahead, one thing remains.  I may get exhausted, or discouraged, or sick, or struggle with learning a third language, or have a hard time making friends in the village, but God’s love will never fail, never give up, and never run out on me.  He loves me, and wants to love others through me with this same unfailing love.  But for that to happen, for God to use me at all, I must first be confident and secure in His love.  And how could I not know for a fact that God loves me, when He sends me an English love note, walking down a street in Brazil, on Valentines Day?

And, my friend, may I wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day all the way from Brazil?  Remember that wherever you live, whatever emotions this holiday brings, and whatever you are facing, God’s love remains for you also.  His love never fails, never gives up, and will never run out on you.  So be confident in your Father’s love.

Or if that kind of love is a new or strange idea to you, please  write to me.  I would be thrilled to share with you the story of God’s unfailing love and how you can receive it.

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