Of Bats and Brides: Who’s Your Valentine?
Feb 14, 2016 03:21AM
● By Bonnie Lyn Smith
I thought I could pick up some easy address-and-sticker valentines for my last elementary school child, Little Man, to bring in for 19 other happy third graders. Then he casually mentioned finding extra construction paper, and I thought: “Oh, yey! He’s making them this year!”
Settling into the lovely thought of slapping some supplies and the class list on the table, my lofty dreams of a Sunday afternoon nap were abruptly interrupted with this declaration:
“Let’s make valentines about bats! We can give them each a fact they might not know.”
Okay, yeah, my enthusiasm completely missing, I felt that Mother Guilt twang—you know, the one that comes along and reminds you there aren’t as many photos on the walls of Child Number 3. Before my mouth fully checked in with my mind, I agreed to do this, and several bat web sites later, we had more than enough encyclopedic information to delight any budding chiropterologist. Really, National Geographic Kids should be calling me any time now offering me a regular contributor gig [smile].
I started thinking about the great lengths Little Man and I went to in order to best represent his interests to the recipients and how we found the right pictures, communicated mild humor, chose words that sounded like something he would say, and offered some education along the way.
It was important to Little Man to represent himself honestly. He didn’t want to convey just any message. He wanted to remain true to himself.
When his classmates open that valentine, many of them will not even need to turn it over to see its sender. It will look and read so much like Little Man, that anyone who truly knows him, or is his daily companion, will recognize the author’s voice.
Valentine’s Day may be a loaded occasion for you. Maybe you have children to love on but your spouse has emotionally left the relationship. Perhaps you lost a loved one recently. You may be waiting for that special valentine in your life to ride up on Cupid’s arrow. Maybe the day is one of dread for you whether or not you receive valentines.
Well, there is a valentine we’ve all been sent.
It’s God’s Word, which John says is Jesus.
John 1:1-5, ESV, Apostle John writing
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
When we open it, do we, like the recipients of Little Man’s valentines, hear the Author’s voice? Can we see the heart behind the actions? Are we growing close enough in relationship with Him that we can hear His heartbeat in the words of every book and chapter?
How it has beaten from the beginning of time for us?
How it has longed to bring us into eternal relationship and life with Him?
John 3:16-17, ESV, Jesus speaking
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
In both the Old Testament and New Testament, God’s love for His people comes through loud and clear as He set them apart to worship Him and to bestow His benevolence upon them. When they had eyes for other idols, they forfeited the blessings and protection offered under His wings.
Psalm 91:4, ESV, author unknown, possibly Moses
He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
The Bible is the ultimate love story—complete with relationship drama, war, betrayal, loss, sacrificial love, reconciliation, etc. It is the Bridegroom wooing the bride from start to finish.
And you and I…
…are the bride.
2 Corinthians 11:2, ESV, Apostle Paul narrating
For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.
Revelation 19:6-9, ESV, Apostle John narrating
Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, "Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure"-- for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, "Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb." And he said to me, "These are the true words of God."
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away."
Let’s take a look at what I said earlier about batty valentines, and instead of Little Man and I, insert God’s name in there.
I started thinking about the great lengths God went to in order to best represent His interests to the recipients. How He found the right pictures (word stories, parables), communicated mild humor (as one example, Baal on the toilet—Bible potty humor!—made you look!), chose words that sounded like something He would and did say in person, and offered some education along the way.
It was important to God to represent Himself honestly. He didn’t want to convey just any message. He wanted to remain true to Himself.
And when His children open that valentine, many of them will not even need to turn it over to see its Sender. It will look and read so much like God, that anyone who truly knows Him, or is His daily companion, will recognize the Author’s voice.
When you read God’s valentine, the Bible—manifested in the fulfillment of His Son sent to earth—do you hear His voice calling to you, His beloved?
This Valentine’s Day, I hope you hear the deep, resonant voice of the Father who sent you a huge volume of love in His Word and through the blood of His Son spilt on the cross for you.
He awaits His bride at the altar.
Author Bonnie Lyn Smith writes about parenting, marriage, mental health advocacy, special education, faith in the valleys of life, the healing cloak of Jesus, drawing healthy boundaries, relational healing, renewing our minds, walking with a Holy God, and much ado about grace. Join the conversation at Espressos of Faith.
Her book, Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day, offers anecdotes on all of these subjects and Scripture for each situation as well as Book Discussion Questions for deeper exploration.