February. The month of love. The season of all things pink, red, and heart-shaped. That special time of year when, for only $5 extra, you can have your pizza cut into the shape of a heart, resulting in less pizza for more money. Whose bright idea was that, by the way? Obviously the genius behind the heart pizza didn’t intend to eat it. I feel certain he wanted it only for ulterior motives. To impress a girl, perhaps. As a woman myself, here’s a tip. If you want the heart pizza for the joy of eating it, go right ahead and delight in your overpriced pizza. Please don’t let me stop you. But if you’re using the heart pizza to impress someone, I beg you to reconsider. You’re better than that, my friend. I mean, don’t we all want someone who’s willing to invest a little more than a heart pizza in us? Don’t we want someone who is willing to invest his or her whole heart? Keep the standard high, people! I work in a retail store where there is no end of heart shaped items to purchase for your loved one. But let’s dig a little deeper this year. Because if we are honest we all want more than a gift that simply represents someone’s heart toward us. A representation is only meaningful when we already know we have the real thing.
Remember in elementary school when we made homemade boxes/bags/envelopes to hang around the classroom for Valentine’s Day? All the students would bring valentines from home that they had made or bought. Some even had the student’s school picture on the front. (What were we thinking with that?) So at some point throughout the day kids would go around the room depositing their valentines in each person’s box. And by the end of the day each kid went home with some valentines. It was nice enough. But let’s get serious. How excited did you really get about the valentines from people who weren’t even your friends? If the person wasn’t nice to you on a regular basis then the valentine didn’t really mean much. But if the person was your best friend…that valentine lasted at least until St. Patrick’s Day. Which is about as long as anything can last in elementary school. Because we do not just want the valentine. We want the heart behind it. The love, authenticity, and mess that makes up real life. And we want all of it. The same way God wants all of ours.
They will be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me for their own good and the good of their children after them. I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me. I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul.
Jeremiah 32:38-41 (NIV)
Almost anywhere we turn in Scripture we can see a picture of God’s heart toward us but, for the moment, this is my favorite. Because it’s not just his covenant to be their God. It is a covenant that He will never stop doing “good” to them, and not only will he never stop doing good but he will rejoice in doing it. But here’s the kicker: God promises to plant his people in his promised land with all his heart and soul. Now I’m not a Bible scholar by any means. But just off the top of my head I can’t think of any other place where God says he will do something with all his heart and soul. And yet fulfilling his word, doing good to his people…that He does with all his heart and soul.
Now don’t get me wrong. I believe everything God does; He does with all his heart and soul. A God loving enough to sacrifice his only Son to save sinful people does not do anything halfheartedly. No heart shaped pizzas for him. But I love that here, He says it. Because sometimes we just need to hear it. To be reminded with words that the One who pursues us does so with all his heart and soul. It’s like our very own valentine. A reminder that someone is willing to invest his whole heart in you. Now what do you do with a valentine like that? I don’t know about you but if someone ever sends me a valentine like that I plan to reciprocate. Especially if that someone is God. How do we do that? Singleness of heart and action. (That’s really about the only kind of singleness I can get behind anyway.) Loving him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Is there any other response? Because when you start to realize that everything God does He does with all his heart and soul, heart shaped pizzas don’t cut it anymore. So give him a valentine He can keep past St. Patrick’s Day: love him with all your heart. Because that is how He loves you.
May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ. 2 Thessalonians 3:5 (NLT)