In less than a week, we celebrate Valentine’s Day. Love is in the air! Unfortunately, the kind of love idealized in Valentine’s Day is one that seems beyond the grasp of many. Even our concept of God’s love is often twisted around until it looks unlike anything described in the Bible. Many believe (or act as though they believe) God will only love us when we get our lives perfectly in order. When that doesn’t happen – and it never does – a life of faith can begin to look like an exercise in futility. Fortunately, God’s love works in the opposite way: love always comes first. Indeed, the motivation to change comes when we discover that God loves us just as we are and wants the very best for us. That is the kind of love Jesus expressed in his ministry and it is the only kind of love that can transform our lives.
One of my favorite “love stories” is a beautiful story called “The Whisper Test,” that shows what a difference one little act of love can make in someone’s life. It’s a true story by a woman named Mary Ann Bird:
“I grew up knowing I was different, and I hated it. I was born with a cleft palate, and when I started school, my classmates made it clear to me how I must look to others: a little girl with a misshapen lip, crooked nose, lopsided teeth and garbled speech. When schoolmates would ask, “What happened to your lip?” I’d tell them I’d fallen and cut it on a piece of glass. Somehow it seemed more acceptable to have suffered an accident than to have been born different. I was convinced that no one outside my family could love me. There was, however, a teacher in the second grade that we all adored — Mrs. Leonard by name. She was short, round, happy — a sparkling lady. Annually, we would have a hearing test. Mrs. Leonard gave the test to everyone in the class, and finally it was my turn. I knew from past years that as we stood against the door and covered one ear, the teacher sitting at her desk would whisper something and we would have to repeat it back… things like, “The sky is blue” or “Do you have new shoes?” I waited there for those words which God must have put into her mouth, those seven words which changed my life. Mrs. Leonard said, in her whisper, “I wish you were my little girl.”
God loves you, even as you are, and wants to shower you with his love and blessings. Are you ready to open your heart to God as he whispers to you, “I love you, my child?”