That’s right, you read it correctly, Happy Providence Day! Despite the inordinate amount of adverts on television attempting to woo my wallet to Kay’s “open heart” pendant or the prevalent images of Hallmark teddy bears filled with animal “magnetism”, I propose an alternative look to the commercial laden chocolate extravaganza we call Valentine’s Day.
Lest you think I’m innocent of the commercialism, I admit I can spend money and expend energy on this annual love-fest like the best of them. I am a sucker for a V-Day with all the fixins. Today I woke bright and early — okay, my hubby may beg to differ with me on the definition of “bright and early” but for me, it was — I set out the crimson sweetheart placemats with cards and gifts for my precious little Valentines to enjoy before school. Yes, the proverbial chocolate hearts did make an appearance and were appreciated. My daughter quickly engaged in yet another wardrobe change to don her new hoodie. My son, glanced at the iTunes card and wondered where the iPod was to go with it — um, details — and my husband fained excitement over the new sleeping aid I gave him, a book on Ethiopian history. And, I am enjoying the smell of flowers wafting through the house.
Our American version of Valentine’s Day suggests we pull one day out of the year to publicly celebrate our love for one another. Everyone is eligible to get in on a piece of the action. Household pets may receive heart-shaped bones and the chocolate industry takes grade-school Valentine’s Day parties straight to the bank.
Unfortunately, however, our English definition of “love” can ring shallow when compared with the many definitions of the word “love” exemplified in the Greek language. In fact, the Greeks boast four different kinds of love: Storge — the “I’d do anything for you” kind of love, Phileo — the “I love you, man” kind of love, Eros — the “wink, wink, I think we’re more than friends, if you know what I mean” kind of love, and finally, Agape – the” unconditional, unmerited effervescent grace-filled favor of the almighty God” kind of love.
Agape love can only be harnessed through a relationship with Christ. Admittedly, I am weak by my own power to display this super-natural type of love. I must first die to myself in order for the Holy Spirit to breathe the breath of life and love back into this human vessel. To me, THIS is the only kind of love that can drive us to stand unabashed and unashamed, publicly proclaiming a love so divine some may even call it “crazy”, in a world that so often distorts the very essence of the word.
This past weekend, my husband and I got to drop the kids off at Grandpa and Mimi’s house (thank you G & M!!) to enjoy a church sponsored marriage retreat in beautiful Estes Park, CO. (Incidentally, this is the very spot where we tied the knot 15 years ago!) Our senior pastor and his wife inspired and encouraged us in our marriages through their seemingly effortless and gifted teaching and personal vulnerability. While my hands were sore due to an exorbitant amount of note-taking, there is one concept in particular that has captured my heart and infused freedom into my life…
The theology of providence denotes God’s activity in the world; His extraordinary intervention in the life of people. How can it be so mysterious and yet so simple? God’s love reigns down on us in such a way that He is faithful to weave circumstances, events and people together for his providential purpose. As Joseph states in Genesis 50:20, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” We must never dismiss the confusing, chaotic, or blissful circumstances of our life. Words like “serendipitous” or “coincidence” can be exchanged for “providence.” Never doubt God’s hand is at work!
Despite our perceived “mis-steps” over two left feet, He continues to weave it all together. He brought my husband and I together 15 years ago to love, honor, and cherish each other — so help us God. I didn’t get into the college of my choice and ended up meeting the love of my life. My husband placated his Dad’s wishes to “just drive through Colorado” on the way to California (my hubby’s first choice!) to check out a tiny liberal arts school. Two lives woven together on a college campus.
On August 23, 2010 I committed a day to prayer and fasting over this heartbeat God had given me for adoption. What is YOUR heart in this matter, Lord?, I asked. Little did I know, half way across the world, two young Ethiopian children were saying good-bye to their mother who relinquished them for adoption. Months later, my heart would be drawn to read their profile and stare into the photo of their captivating eyes. God’s spirit united my heart to theirs as I noticed the day they were dropped off at the orphanage, August 23, 2010. One more thread woven in the loom of God’s providential love.
God’s love knows no bounds and it penetrates borders. His love shatters strongholds and breathes life and freedom. So, on this Valentine’s Day, “may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high and how deep his love is”. (Ephesians 3:18).
May today and every day be, Happy Providence Day.
Go ahead, take a step. Providence awaits….