My husband and I went to a hotel this Valentine's Day weekend.
With all of our children.
It would be illegal in the States to have that many bodies in one hotel room.
Here--no problem. The twins shared a pack 'n play. The hotel workers slid an extra queen size mattress onto the floor for two of our boys, and a third boy took the small couch. Our daughter shared a separate room with a short-term missionary who also went with us.
That may not appear romantic, but it is the stuff love is made of.
Why did we do this?
One of our goals this year has been to involve our children in ministry. So this weekend, in preparation for the evangelistic drama our college students would be doing at the church of a pastor-friend of ours, our family went there for the weekend as a team to pass out invitations and tracts and encourage people to attend. I'm not sure if our efforts brought in any or many extra bodies for the drama, but we were blessed as we went house to house visiting members and their neighbors and meeting people in the surrounding streets.
The church members themselves did a fantastic job of inviting people: the church was packed, the singing was contagiously happy, and the drama ended with a soul-searching message.
It was a joy, all around, to see the Lord work.
But, speaking of Valentines Day. . .
What are our presuppositions about romance?
Concerts? Flowers? Chocolates? Dinner out?
I did get flowers. My husband came home late Thursday night bearing a sheath of velvety red roses. And we did eat out on Valentines' Day (with a bunch of other people). And today, while ransacking the freezer, I discovered a dark chocolate bar that our recent Singaporean visitors gave us. Now I can include chocolate on my list of Valentine's weekend treats.
So I did get most of those things, just re-packaged for a family of eight.
What did love look like to you this Valentine's Weekend?
Maybe your spouse surprised you with a weekend at a Bed and Breakfast in your dream location. Praise the Lord for that, and rejoice. Build awesome memories.
Maybe, though, your life's circumstances didn't permit that. Maybe you had a weekend of dirty diapers. Sick kids. Maybe you shared a coffee because there was no money for a candlelight dinner.
Maybe your kisses in the kitchen were interrupted by teenagers asking for the keys to the car, or by boys skateboarding right between the two of you, or by little girls chanting, "Saw you kiss!"
Maybe your spouse is with the Lord, and you took out their picture and looked at it with tears in your eyes.
Maybe you are single, and longing to be married, and you spent your weekend avoiding the Hallmark card aisles at the grocery store.
You were not gypped.
You have a good God who loves you. Every other love comes from Him. He is the foundation of all loves. And you have His love. Forever and ever. Nobody and nothing can take it away from you.
Here is what the Bible says about that love:
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
What Does Love Look Like?
As far as human love. . . it doesn't come pre-packaged to suit the current cultural romantic fantasies.
It isn't one-size-fits-all. Don't be jealous if your Valentine's Day didn't look like your best friend's Valentine's Day. You wouldn't want it that way. Love is tailor-made by a loving God for each of us. Love will look different to you than it does to me.
But this is what love looked like for my husband and I this weekend:
children, sprawled all over the hotel room;
singing together in church as a family;
walking the streets of a relocation village at dusk on a Sunday afternoon, talking to people about the Lord and inviting them to church;
visiting dear friends who will be leaders for the next generation of Christian Filipinos;
watching my children fearlessly pass out tracts;
listening to those same children argue the transcending benefits of boys vs. girls in an exuberant late-night gender war;
experiencing the beyond-generous hospitality of believers and friends;
seeing gifted college students give of their time, energy, and talents for the Lord's work;
meeting brothers and sisters in Christ who are being His light in a dark place;
and, of course,
the everyday, ordinary fun of a big family serving the Lord together.
It was more beautiful than a concert. Funnier than a rom-com chick-flick. More profound than a novel.
I'm full-up of love this Valentine's Day weekend.
Tim and Laura
Timothy and Laura Berrey are missionaries with Gospel Fellowship Association. They share a passion for missions which has taken them to several countries in Africa, Asia, and Europe. They currently minister in the Philippines.
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