Have you read the greatest love letter ever written?

Published 12:00am Saturday, February 15, 2014

Years ago, while looking through a collection of old family photos that once belonged to my grandmother, I came across a Whitman’s Sampler candy box with cross-stitched flowers printed on it.

Curious, I raised the cover of the cardboard container that time had faded from lemon yellow to a golden honey color. Inside were postcard-size snapshots of grade school classes, family gatherings, and relatives I didn’t recognize.

In that box of sweet memories, my grandmother had tucked away a heart-shaped greeting card dated Feb. 13, 1915.  She would have been 10 years old then.

I found it interesting that the Valentine, with its rhyming verse to “the dearest and sweetest girl I know,” wasn’t signed. Maybe it came from a secret admirer. I can only wonder now.

The tradition of giving Valentines began centuries ago when people wrote their own romantic messages to one another, the earliest dating back to the 1400s. Then, by the early 1800s, hand-painted Valentines decorated with lace and paper flowers were popular in England.

In 1850, Esther Howland, an American artist and printer, was the first to publish and sell Valentines in the United States. The rest is history, as they say. Except for Christmas, more cards are exchanged on Valentine’s Day than any other time of year.

A Valentine expresses your love for someone, usually in a few sentimental sentences.  The Bible has been described as God’s love letter to us.  Like a Valentine, verse after verse tells us how much God loves us.

“I have loved thee with an everlasting love,” He tells us through the pen of the prophet Jeremiah (3:13). The apostle Paul was persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

John, one of Jesus’ disciples, said we love God because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19).   God showed His love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).  In the New Testament, we find 1 Corinthians 13, known as the love chapter.  John 3:16 tells just how much God loves every one of us.

“For God (The Greatest) so loved (to the greatest degree) the world (the greatest number) that He gave (the greatest act) His only begotten Son (the greatest gift) that whosoever (the greatest invitation) believeth (the greatest simplicity) in Him (the greatest person) should not perish (the greatest promise) but have (the greatest certainty) everlasting life (the greatest possession).”

Theologian Karl Barth was once asked, “What is the greatest thought you ever had?”  He replied, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”  God is love and it is no secret how much He loves you and me.  Just open your Bible and read. the greatest love letter of all time.

 

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