By Glen Doss, Major
On Valentine’s Day our thoughts turn to love. If a person is your valentine, that individual is the one you love the best.
I wonder if we might be God’s valentine. Enthusiastically, the apostle announces: How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called Children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1 NIV). When you think about it, what a marvelous revelation that is indeed. What an incredible truth to grasp: that our Creator loves us so dearly that he condescends to call us flawed human beings his children!
This Valentine’s Day I wish to share with you my favorite poem. It is the account of a lovely conversation between the poet George Herbert (1593-1633) and his Lord. When I first read it several years ago, I was moved to tears. I encountered it at a place and time in my life when I desperately needed its reminder. It brought to mind the words of Corrie Ten Boom: “There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.” The poet is very candid about himself, his feelings and his motives toward God. As you read it, can you see yourself here?
Love bade me welcome; yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lack’d anything.
“A guest,” I answer’d, “worthy to be here”:
Love said, “You shall be he.”
“I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear,
I cannot look on Thee.”
Love took my hand and smiling did reply,
“Who made the eyes but I?”
“Truth, Lord; but I have marr’d them: let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.”
“And know you not,” says Love, “Who bore the blame?”
“My dear, then I will serve.”
“You must sit down”’ says Love, “and taste my meat.”
So I did sit and eat.
He whose name is Love welcomed the poet, perhaps with these words: “Let the thirsty ones come—anyone who wants to. Let them come and drink the water of life without charge” (Rev. 22:17 NLT). Yet the poet’s awareness of his sin caused him to draw back. So Love drew nearer. The poet is shameful that he has so damaged the eyes God gave him that he cannot look at Love. He wishes Love would cast him out instead of inviting him in.
This poem describes a typical human reaction to God’s invitation to eternal life. We think we must be worthy, sinless, to be a guest of the loving Creator. But Love reminds us that he has borne the blame for our sin. It is natural to feel unworthy, but faith in Jesus Christ can alleviate this feeling.
Herbert says in the last stanza: “My dear, then I will serve.” But kindly Love corrects him: “You must sit down…and taste my meat.” Persuaded by Love, the poet “did sit and eat.”
We are reminded that we are not righteous enough to do good for God. It is simply our part to surrender to him and allow him to work through us. The Lord, our true valentine, is unique, one of a kind. “Human hands can’t serve his needs, for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need there is” (Acts 17:25 NLT).
As Corrie Ten Boom, who suffered intense cruelty at the hands of the Nazi SS, discovered: “It is not on our forgiveness any more than our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the Love itself” (Tramp for the Lord).
Happy Valentine’s Day, Jesus!