When I was a child, I looked forward to Valentine’s Day with great anticipation. I knew that once it got dark, Father Valentine would visit our house. Who on earth, you are probably wondering, is Father Valentine? As a child, I never knew who he was either.
All I knew and loved, is that he would come bearing gifts not just for me and my siblings, but for the grown-ups, too. However, this was no ordinary gift-giving.
My heart would beat loudly as my brothers and I waited silently in the hallway of our home for a knock on the door that signaled Father Valentine’s arrival. When that knock came, we’d jump up and charge to the door, flinging it open as quickly as we could.
Speed was the essence of our response—in the hope of catching a glimpse of Father Valentine, which we never did. No one stood on the doorstep. Instead, only a plainly wrapped brown paper parcel tied with string sat on the doormat. One end of the string disappeared into the shadows.
The parcel did not wait to be picked up! It would jerk away from us, pulled by the string. My brothers and I would dive at the parcel in an attempt to catch it before it was swallowed up by the night. Seizing it, one of us would untie the string before the package could be tugged from our arms.
A family member’s name would be scrawled on the brown paper, and inside would be an appropriate gift.
This rigmarole of gift delivery would continue throughout the evening, sometimes with long stretches of time between each knock at the door, until each family member had received a present.
Father Valentine was a fun and intriguing character, although I never laid eyes on him.
This custom, I later discovered, is specific to the area of England where I grew up—the middle of the Norfolk countryside on the east coast of Britain.
I decided to carry on this tradition with my children. But somehow the magic never transferred to them. They were terrified and ran in the opposite direction when a knock came on the door on Valentine’s Day evening. And so they never got to grasp and enjoy the gifts delivered by Father Valentine.
I tell this little story because sometimes we get the wrong impression about God and his gift of love.
When he knocks on the door of our lives, only wanting for us to accept his love given to us through his Son, we run in the opposite direction, too. Or we just fail to grasp the extend of his love. We don’t grab onto it with both hands and take it as our own.
Perhaps that describes you? Even though you have known God and the gift of his Son, Jesus, you are still struggling to understand the extent of God’s love for you.
“I’ve never quit loving you and never will. Expect love, love, and more love! Jeremiah 31:3
I’ve called your name. You’re mine.
When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.
When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you’re between a rock and a hard place,
it won’t be a dead end—
Because I am God, your personal God,
The Holy of Israel, your Savior.
I paid a huge price for you…
That’s how much you mean to me!
That’s how much I love you!
I’d sell off the whole world to get you back,
trade the creation just for you.
Linger over those words, as you would over a love letter. Repeat them until you believe them in your heart. Then go into your day knowing that you are special and loved by God.
By the way, the mysterious Father Valentine was only my father.
Photo by Peter Robbins on Unsplash