I like to keep some decorations up during the winter – remnants of my Christmas decorations that can be made to look “wintery,” so I don’t lose the festive air in our house completely during the gap between Christmas and Easter. This year I kept a collection of wintery looking trees with little white lights, small grey snow-capped houses, and little brown rabbits walking through the wintery scene hand in hand. A sweet little menagerie trailing along after the holidays have passed, keeping the scene alive until the arrival of something new. For Valentine’s I’m keeping the rabbits, and a little of the “winter,” as it’s still chilly outside; and for some reason it just feels right for this year. But I’m bringing in some touches of red as well, to symbolize the life blood of love, that is still very much alive and operating within the hearts of the trees and inside the roots of the bare plants all around me. Some red lanterns, red birds, and red candles help to highlight idea of love, throughout my still winter-looking scene. Over the last couple of years, as I transition from “winter” to a Valentine’s Day theme, I have been impressed with the idea of Valentine’s Day, and how a day for celebrating love comes to us after Christmas, and during the cold of winter. Before anything looks beautiful, or has blossomed. And the scripture came to mind, While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.1
In the deepest expression of love, God sent us His son, to bring the good news that we are not alone, not lost, not forsaken in this world. That we have a Father, and that he loves us. That he is presently working in our lives, working to bring a good ending to every story, and all his children safely home into his loving arms. At first he comes to us while we are yet unlovely, and while we are seemingly nothing at all – while we are not lovable to most appearances. But he loves us from the first, because he is our Father, of course. He is our maker; our author, and the source of our life. He intended, created, and planted the seed of our life, and he knows the little mound of dirt where we have been planted is anything but insignificant, though it may seem that way to unknowing eyes – having been to all outer appearances left alone, out in the cold. But quietly his love comes – it flows to us through the gift of his son, bringing us life through his blood, who has come that we may have life, and have it more abundantly. – Because we need it?
We do need it. Left alone, our souls are really as cold as the winter. Like the plants and trees in winter, that appear to be nothing but dead twigs and branches, on the outside. But we are not alone, we are not left without life, and we are not forgotten out in the cold. Lovingly, he tends the seeds that He has planted, breathing life into our cold hearts with the breath of his love, and we are warmed. He floods our world with light, and the warmth of the sun’s rays slowly begin to penetrate through the crust of earth around us, and seep down into our soil, and begin to awake and draw out life of our sleepy limbs. He brings us his sweet gifts, and we have a door – an opening into the joy and life that awaits up above ground, and out in the open air. A picture of The Good Father, he is the source of every good thing in our life. Without him, we are nothing – without his love, our souls are cold, and our hearts lose their hope. Without his light, we are truly left in the dark. Without his gifts, our souls have no growth, no life, and no joy. And so, he comes. Into our lives he comes, day after day, season after season, year after year; again, and again, and again. Tending our little plant through the coldest days of winter, bringing us sun and bringing us rain. Helping us fend off the bugs, and kill the weeds that would suck away our life, and steal away our joy. Patiently he waits, till the life that is in us can begin to rouse itself, and our life-blood begins to seek out the sun, and our branches begin to grow and produce buds as we bask in the warmth of his joyful rays.
This is the fulfillment of love; when the beloved, the recipient of love, is warmed enough, full enough, and grown enough, that a germ of love is awakened, and begins to come to life, and grow in his own heart also. When the germ comes to life, and this love begins to flow outward to others, and back to its own origin, and maker. When the love in our hearts that has been tended and watered so long grows up and comes into its own, and becomes a living soul, and a loving being, like our Father. When we are not recipients only, nor children only, but when we become partakers and also givers in this circle of love and life.
Let us then, sisters, brothers – turn our hearts to behold our Father, as flowers turn their faces to the sun. Let us open up the windows of our hearts, and drink in the warmth of his rays. Let us bathe in the refreshing waters of his rain, and drink in the nourishment that he gives us. Let us work with him to pluck out the weeds, and rid ourselves of the parasites that would drain away our life. Let our hearts warm and open to the love radiated by the Father of our souls, and let our souls come to life, and begin to send our love back out to him. Let our hands reach out to touch him, and our arms stretch out to feel his spirit, his heart, and himself – our Father, and our maker, and the author of all the good in our lives. Let us take His hand, and enter into the dance of love by His side. Let us not be hearers and receivers only, but doers and givers also. Let our hands reach out to include our brothers and our sisters, and let us bring them also into the joyful dance of love. And let us celebrate love. This is love; that God loved us, and sent us His love, through His son.2 If God so loved us, shall we not also send out our love, to warm and fill other hearts with our rays of love and life?
I’m letting in the sun, and drinking in the rain. –With Bear. ❤️
- Romans 5:8
- 1 John 4:10