Have you ever written a love letter to someone you really care about? There is a deep well of emotional energy in us that causes us to want to express, in no uncertain terms, the depth of our undying love stirring within toward the beloved. There has sprung up in recent years, both in this country and around the world, a whole multi-million dollar cottage industry revolving around February 14th and the need to vent our pent-up love on Valentine’s Day. However, it is certainly not limited to a single day out of the year when we feel this profound need to express our deepest emotions toward our hoped-for “soul mate”. Many of us do this early in the relationship and then never, ever again once the beloved gives in to our eloquences and concedes to become ours alone. There is a term that refers to this emotional impetus. It is called “limerence” and it is a strong and intense emotional drive to envelope oneself in the person who “has your heart”, to think of them every waking minute, to long for them romantically night and day, to wrap yourself up in everything about them. Who of us hasn’t at some point in their life felt a deep-seated need to express our intense romantic longings, either through poetry or prose, to the object of our highest affections? My son, who recently became engaged, just informed me that he wrote a “love letter” to his betrothed last week as a verbal expression of the depth of his love toward his fiancée’. This coming from a college athlete, a jock with little sentimentality and an aversion to writing anything at all!
Unfortunately, most of us “outgrow” this phase of courtship and move on to less frequent, less intense verbal expressions of our romantic devotion. In many cases, especially after years of marriage, these expressions may disappear altogether. Once we have wooed the object of our esteem, we no longer feel the same need to maintain that high-octane level of sentimentality. Freud had much to say about this, and perhaps he was not totally off base with his psycho-sexual explanation of this phenomenon. But I believe that it goes much deeper than the interaction of the ID and the libido. This need for intense expression and verbal declaration of our love is a really just a poor reflection of the grandiloquent words of love expressed by the very God who made us in His image.
God’s love and desire for His beloved are expressed in many places throughout the Bible. Perhaps none more graphically and metaphorically than in the Song of Solomon in the Old Testament, or more powerfully and explosively than in the 19th and 21st chapters of Revelation in the New Testament. But I believe that the ultimate “love letter from God” is found in the First Epistle of John. Consider that this small book of the Bible contains over 46 mentions of the word love, loves, or loved. It is also filled with flowery prose, grand visions of love’s highest virtues, and an unparralled hope and future promised to the object of His love.
The book of I John uses the Word of Life as the self-described authentication of its content. Life, fellowship, and joy are attributes of the relationship it describes. Light, walking in light, righteousness, truth and purity are held up as benefits arising out of this paragon relationship. Forgiveness of sins, freedom from judgment, punishment and fear, and a certainty of eternal hope in an everlasting life are all held up as the ultimate outcome of the promises of this heavenly “Valentine Card”.
But most notably it is about love, God’s love for us and our love in return for Him and for those around us. It is an active love of which He speaks, one that is based in intentionality and giving and not in emotionality and taking. For you see, God is a giver through and through. As George MacDonald puts it in his Unspoken Sermons, “The God and Father of Jesus Christ could never possibly be satisfied with less than giving Himself to His own! Man finds it hard to get what he wants, because he does not want the best; God finds it hard to give, because He would give the best and man will not take it.”
And then these astounding words: God is love! (I John 4:8, 16) We love Him because He first loved us! (I John 4:10, 19) When we are born of His love (I John 3:1,2; 4:7; 5:1) we then become the recipients of the blessings of His love, the hope and future that brings. We also are able to love Him in return because we abide (live and breathe) in His love. We are thus then empowered to love one another even as He has loved us, because we now understand for the first time something of the grandeur of His love for us. And it is this love that enables us to overcome the world! (I John 5:4,5)
“What the world needs now is love, sweet love” wrote Hal David and Burt Bacharach back in the mid-60’s. They were right, but were looking for love in all the wrong places. Instead of making that same mistake, why not take a few minutes to read God’s “love letter” to you this Valentine’s Day? And then share it as a personal love letter by reading it with that special person in your life. Nothing you have said, can say, or ever will say can have as much significance in communicating the essence of true love as these Words of Life this Valentines Day!