Good morning! Thank you for signing up to receive the Lenten Devotionals! Those of you who have received our devotionals in the past know that I typically start by offering an introduction of our writer for the day, but I thought I would switch things up today and write the devotional myself. I hope your heart is warmed on this Valentine’s Day, and that God uses it to speak to you in some unexpected way. Have a blessed day, and I hope you find some way to demonstrate love today to someone who needs it. Blessings, Todd
February 14, 2013 By: Todd Boling
John 15:12-17 – “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatsoever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.”
It seems appropriate that we celebrate Valentine’s Day as we begin our Lenten journey. On a day where we celebrate love, regardless of the reason, it’s good to be reminded of the greatest love we have ever known – Jesus’ love for us. It’s a love that reminds us of the fact that true love requires action, and sometimes sacrifices.
My grandparents were simple farmers who knew what it was like to live on a tight budget. There wasn’t a lot of room for extravagant gifts. So when my grandfather gave my grandmother a beautiful new coat one year, it was a big deal. I remember the “ooos” and “ahhs” that followed when she opened the gift and removed it from the gift wrap. I even remember reaching out to touch it and having my mom grab my wrist just before my crumb-covered fingers could grasp it. This coat was beautiful and cherished.
A few weeks later I went shopping with my grandmother, and I noticed a woman sitting on the sidewalk outside of the department store as we were exiting. Even to a child’s eyes it was obvious there was something wrong. She was upset and shivering, with her arms wrapped tightly around her. I watched as my grandmother walked over to her, knelt down in front of her, and listened to her as she talked and cried. After several minutes I watched as my grandmother took off her beautiful new coat and wrapped it around this woman she met only moments ago. She then gently kissed her forehead, hugged her, and whispered something in her ear. My grandmother then walked back over to me and smiled as she reached for my hand and we walked to the car. We never discussed what I saw her do that day, but that image and lesson has never left me.
As we enter into this season of Lent, may we be mindful of Jesus’ command to love one another, keeping in mind that we have been “appointed to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last.” Did my grandmother give her life for someone else that day? No. But she taught me that real love extends beyond our family & friends. She taught me to see the needs around me. She taught me to give out of my abundance to those in need. She taught me that true love requires action, and sometimes sacrifice. She taught me that expensive new coats are nice, but it is people that are beautiful and cherished. Simply put, she taught me how to love.
God, as we examine our hearts and minds during this season of Lent, help us to love more fully & to be more aware of the needs of others. May they see You and Your love shining through the love we offer to them. Amen.