LOVE:  That small yet powerful word can evoke a myriad of images and emotions, that range from joy to distress and hit many notes in between. February has become synonymous with love, affection and romance due to the mid-month celebration of the secular holiday Valentine’s day. There is no missing it, the chocolate shaped hearts are visually present since wrapping paper was marked down to half price on December 26. For some of us, this day may conjure up feelings of    disappointment or sadness. The grieving, the single, those with difficult relationships. Wishing and wanting something more or something different. For some of us we wrestle in this reality on a regular basis. So, how can we, as Christians, manage the periodic discontentment in our lives? By leaning into God’s love and allowing His love to permeate us. God has poured out His love into our hearts. True love materializes into action.

Now, it is one thing to talk about love and quite another thing to show it. How easy it is for us to say that we love someone. Yet if that love is real, it will be made visible.  Real love takes on the form of sacrifice and self-giving. God doesn’t just say that He is love; He demonstrated that love by sending us Jesus.

How do I regularly demonstrate love towards others? Do I love all God’s people?  How do I love in ways that cause me to sacrifice for others—whether it be time, money, or something else?

For me, as I suspect many of us, time is a precious commodity. It’s not the carving out of a piece of time or even the spending of that time. It is being present to that person or activity that I have at times struggled with. I mean fully present, without distraction. That requires a great deal of focus to be deeply engaged but that is where the gift is, in that connection. I have experienced that connection with special people in my life and with Jesus in prayer. God becomes visible when believers love one another. Because it shows that God abides in us.

Love has its origin in God. But there is another truth that helps us to understand love and understand Jesus’ teaching to love others. It is the fact that love is seen in the cross of Christ. God poured out His awesome love for us on the cross. Love leaves a mark-one look at Jesus’ hands and feet let’s us know that there is no greater love.

So, this Valentine’s day, do something different, “be” about love, but “be” about true love—the love that God has for us. Be about our love for Him—and be    present to one another and to Him and we just might have God show up right in the middle of it all and whisper, “ I love you. I will never leave you.”