I began making Valentines when I was very small. I remember the feeling of accomplishment as I folded the construction paper in a slightly crooked half. I handled my scissors with great caution as I followed my mother's pencil marks. I felt proud that I'd been trusted with such a dangerous object. The glue stuck on my fingers, the sparkle of stray glitter colored my fingerprints. I loved this project.
Grade school squashed my creativity. Those little boxed cards littered my friend's desks, manufactured and glitterless. For a while I gave up the homemade Valentines.
When my first child was born I pulled out the construction paper with the glee of a child in a candy store. It didn't matter that my daughter could barely walk. I would cut the heart for her. I squirted purple and hot pink paint onto the pink paper and watched as she smeared her tiny hands across the page. When it dried I made an outline around the edges with glue. In the trails I sprinkled red glitter. We made a dozen of these.
Inside the cards I wrote love quotes and set them aside for family members. They were fun to make, and special to give. I didn't know how treasured they could be.
One of our Valentine's was my Uncle Michael. He was only ten years older than me and actually more like a brother than an uncle.
He passed away the following year.
My Grandpa was in charge of the estate. He went through everything meticulously.
While searching through my uncle's small lock box one day my Grandpa found the old Valentine card that my daughter and I had created. Along with the faded Valentine was a letter I'd written where I had shared my faith with the uncle I had loved so much.
I never dreamt that he'd kept these things, under lock en key no less. Had he even said a word when I'd placed the card in his hands? Yet, he had treasured my message of love along with all his prized possessions. I was amazed.
As my Grandpa handed the items to me I read the quote the card contained. I had forgotten the message myself. Inside I had written a quote by Francois Mocuriac which reads:
"No love, no friendship, can cross the path
of our destiny without leaving some mark on us forever."
Below that I'd written "Love. . . and leave a mark." He had certainly done that.
Saving the Valentine was a testimony of his love for me. He'd taken the challenge I'd given him and had left a mark on me that has never faded as the years pass. The Valentine also read like a message to my heart, inspiring me and cautioning me at the same time. Live, love, and leave a mark. Not just any mark though, a mark that will bless and inspire the future.
It blesses my heart to know that my uncle had treasured my act of love. I can only imagine how it must bless the heart of God as we meditate on, and treasure, the precious act of love He demonstrated through the life and death of His son.
When nails were driven into the hands and feet of our innocent Saviour, they left a mark that stung the pit of hell. The piercing mark of His pain and death spelled out love like no paper Valentine ever could. As He breathed his last breath the mark of His influence on His followers fell like a wave, like a challenge begging them to pass the message on.
After Christ rose from the dead He showed the marks in His hands to His follower, Thomas, as evidence that He was who He claimed to be. The message of love was powerful. I bet Thomas' heart nearly exploded at the recognition that his greatest hope had come true.
Isaiah 49:16 (NKJV) reads:
"See I have inscribed you on the palm of my hands;
Your walls are continually before me."
His mark isn't just a physical mark. His is a mark of influence, a message of love that has been carried from one believer to another through the testimony of His followers and the scriptures they lived, breathed and shared.
I want to treasure God's Valentine above anything else. His is a love I can't fully fathom and can only hope to fully imitate. God's Valentine didn't need scissors, but His Words cut right to my heart. God's Valentine didn't need glitter, but it shook up my life and left me glowing and vibrant. It took everything He had to make it. No treasure can compare.
In everything we do we leave a message. We leave a mark when we aren't even aware. Sometimes these messages are love-filled treasures, sometimes they are marks that are better off erased. What messages of love are you writing on those around you? Are you living to treasure God's message of Love for you?
Love . . .and leave a mark.