by Amy Coleman
Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite times of the year. It has had my number now for 28 years. Some people love Valentine’s Day and some hate it for various reasons. Op/ed writer Dean Obeidalliah stated clearly what many think when he wrote, “What may have started out as a holiday intended to bring couples together has been transformed into a commercial spectacle peddled to us by florists, greeting card companies, jewelry stores and makers of stuffed animals.” But for Lee and me, Valentine’s Day has a different sort of special attached to it rather than just a “here are flowers and a card to say I love you”.
I love a great love story. I always have. I am a hopeless romantic that fell in love with Gilbert Blythe from Anne of Green Gables, and Mr. Darcy and Mr. Knightly from the Jane Austin novels I devoured as a teenager. And as an adult, I love my love story with Lee.
On February 12, 1993, a very young, and might I add quite bold Lipscomb University sophomore, Lee Coleman, took a very young, and might I add a touch enamored with said bold sophomore, Amy Watson, on a first date. You read that right. Our first date ever was on Valentine’s Day a lifetime ago. Bold, right? Fast forward a year later, after a he said/she said breakup that resulted in over a semester’s worth of the silent treatment, and the now LU junior, who still carried the same swagger to him, took me out on a second first date, you guessed it, on Valentine’s Day.
A few weeks ago I was in the middle of cleaning out my attic and I came across a box of mementos from college. It had traveled with us from Nashville, to three houses in Jackson, 2 houses in Greenwood, and had landed in a corner of my attic out in Money. I am not sure when the box had last been opened, but it was clearly marked “Amy’s Memories”, and so I had to take a break from the work to take a walk down memory lane.
Inside the box I found a stack of handwritten letters that Lee sent me during the summer of 1994. I was living in Vienna, Austria for part of the summer through a teaching-English-using-the-Bible program at LU. Upon opening up the letters and reading of how our separation was killing the young and madly in love Lee, I was instantly transported back to the youth hostel I stayed in and was reminded of the many tears I shed while on the trip all because life without Lee wasn’t a life at all. Reading the declarations of love and the longing to be back together gave me an hour of pure delight, and dare I say made me fall a little more in love with the boy who sent those letters so long ago. (Side plug moment – write letters to your loved ones. And save the letters you receive. In this day of quick texts or snapchats, an actual hand written letter will become a treasure to your special someone!)
Like I wrote at the beginning, I absolutely love a good love story. And I love how God is still writing Lee’s and my love story. As much as I adore my personal love story, and would be happy to give you more details of the sketchy break up that I still insist was Lee’s fault, there is an even greater love story that we both claim.
While homeschooling the kids this year, we have been working through the devotion book “Long Story Short” by Marty Machowski. The book is taking us chronologically through the Bible hitting all the major stories along the way. But, the actual Bible stories of creation: Noah, Abraham, and so on, are not the main focus. Interestingly, each week culminates in a final question, “How does this point us to Christ?” The kids have gotten so used to this question that I usually begin with “ok, how does…” and they respond with a slight touch of eye rolling, “we know ... point us to Christ?”
We are learning together that the Bible is a beautiful love story that we get to be a part of. No other love story can compete with the love story of the Bible. No other romance can affect us like the romance that God wrote throughout history. In Ephesians 1:4-6 Paul writes,
“For he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in love before him. He predestined us to be adopted as sons through Jesus Christ for himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he lavished on us in the Beloved One.”
Did you catch the before part? Before the foundation. Before Genesis 1:1. You were a part of the love story before anything else happened! How amazing is that? This love story couldn’t get any better. Not only did God plan for our salvation, but he did it before he created flowers, sunshine, puppies, and Valentine’s hearts!
As we read through the Old Testament, time and time again God uses his people, the Israelites, to point the reader to his or her need for a savior. From Abraham and Isaac, to Moses and Aaron. From David and Goliath, to Daniel in the Lion’s den. So many stories are great big arrows pointing us to the continuation and future completion of God’s love story. Oh, how his people need a savior! And oh, what great news that God would send his son as the final savior to complete the ultimate rescue of his beloved sons and daughters.
Have you missed this concept in the Bible stories you know so well? I was well into my adulthood before I began to see how God was writing our love story from the beginning: that every step of the way was pointing me to the fact that he loved me so much that he would part with his only son so that I can be with him one day and give him all the praise, glory, and honor due him.
Like the scripture above reads, this love story is all according to God’s “good pleasure.” God enjoys the love story as much as I do. It is all for the “praise of his glorious grace” that he “lavished on us” in Christ. Here’s your post-Valentine’s Day challenge: become a hopeless romantic! Dig deep into God’s love story and see how it is the greatest love story ever told. Dwell in that, and continue to fall deeper in love with the One who calls you his, who longs to be with you, and who has guaranteed to make it happen.