Valentine’s Day. The most romantic day of the year, or so society says anyway. It’s a time when more chocolate is consumed, and more red roses are sold to proclaim love than any other time during the year. It’s commercialism at it’s best. The cliché gifts represent what is appropriate to give and expected on this special day. They are also the source of disappointment when not given or received. This is the predicament I found myself in last Valentine’s Day.
Love Appreciation Day 2007 was spent with my family. My boyfriend was on a mission trip in Nigeria on the actual holiday so we celebrated before he left. He had been talking about my present so much that I was caught up in his hype. I was very excited to say the least. When it finally came time to open the gift I had no idea what to expect from the abundance of ambiguous clues he had given. Clearly he was proud of himself by the boyish grin that was plastered on his face. I remember thinking, This is going to be good! I opened the package and instantly my shoulders sagged and my face fell as I was trying to grasp for an emotion or response that wouldn’t hurt his feelings. I think I managed, “It’s gray and plastic … I um, really like it.”
It was a space heater.
Not very romantic, but very practical. One look at his crestfallen face and I knew he was disappointed, too. I had missed something.
It was actually on Valentine’s Day that year that I sat in my bedroom reading, enjoying the warmth produced by my new gift, when I actually understood the gift itself. It hit me. There was an immense thoughtfulness behind his gifting. See, I am incessantly cold. To the point that if I enter an air-conditioned room on a warm day, I’ll get goose bumps immediately. On winter days you can only imagine it would be worse. He took the time to think of a present that would be truly helpful and that was very “me.” It actually held the solution to a problem I had. In that moment of revelation I felt really loved–not only was I physically warm, but my heart was warm as well.
A few seconds later I turned to study the space heater. As I pondered its use and main job, I quickly became aware that there was also a lesson to be seen here. The whole point of a space heater’s existence is to emanate heat. You plug it in, set it in the center of a room, and it gives forth warmth to the whole place. In my revelation warmth is synonymous with love. Isn’t that what Jesus did when he walked the earth? He would be in the center of a room, a town, a group and emanate God’s love to all those who surrounded Him. That was His main purpose, so that by feeling that love people would be pointed to the solution of their problem. The problem being they were sinners and needed a savior.
Isn’t that our role as Christians? We are called to be like Jesus, and love like He loved. Scripture is full of passages on love, in 1 Peter 4:8 the Bible says, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins” (TNIV), and 1 John 4:12 proclaims, “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” We are meant to point others to their Great Solution, through Christ-like love.
Wow, I remember thinking. Do I really live like that? Do I love as Jesus loves?
All of that from a space heater you say? Yep. In the offbeat, quirky gifts and unexpected places of life, God speaks truths and convictions. What is He saying to you?
It’s about to be February all over again, I look around at the things that have changed since last Valentine’s Day. One of the many changes is the previously mentioned boyfriend is now my fiancé. I wonder what he’ll get me this year and how God will use it to teach me. A constant in the midst of change, my trusty space heater is still in use. Right now as I am writing this, my space heater is plugged in, fulfilling its purpose. It serves as a consistent reminder to me of Jesus’ love and continually asks me, “Are you fulfilling your purpose to love those around you like Jesus does?” It’s certainly something I need to be reminded of often.
I’ve gotten more from that contraption than a dozen red roses or a box of chocolates could ever match. So when someone asks me what one of the best gifts I’ve ever received is, I smile demurely and say, “A space heater for Valentine’s Day.”