February is the month of love, with Valentine’s Day being an annual reminder that undying love must be declared! The origins of this day are unclear. One legend has it that the emperor only allowed men of a certain age to marry (since single men could be sent to war and married men were more reluctant to go!) and Valentine was a monk who felt this was wrong and so allowed younger men to marry, thereby incurring the emperor’s wrath and being martyred for this. Another legend has Valentine as a monk who helped Christians who were being persecuted by the Romans and who again was killed for his help. Other legends believe that Valentine’s Day originates from a fertility festival to honour the god of agriculture. Whatever the origins, by the 17th century it was commonplace to send handwritten notes declaring love to a beloved, but without signing a name to these declarations; by the 20th century, the advent of printed cards revolutionised the day (and made big business for card companies!)

Our willingness to go along with the commercialisation of love indicates a deep-seated need to be loved that is felt by every human. We all want to be loved as we are, to be fully known and fully accepted. This was how it was meant to be in the beginning, with God creating man for relationship with Him, but as sin entered the world, mankind pushed God away, leaving a gaping hole in our hearts which we often seek to fill through other things.

Garry spoke about a 2-storey building in Sheffield that was demolished to build 5-storey flats on the same location. The foundations needed strengthening, but it was only when concrete was brought in to fill the gap that it was realised the original building was built on an old Victorian aqueduct. The actual amount of concrete needed to fill this hole far exceeded expectations. In the same way, no human being – however loving and kind – can fill the hole in our hearts that can only be filled by God.

Jeremiah 2:13 tells us that Israel’s sin was to forsake God, the spring of living water, and to dig their own cisterns. God is the source of pure, life-giving water. Water from our own broken cisterns will not satisfy.

However unloved we may feel, the fact remains that we have never been unloved. God has loved us with an everlasting love (Jer 3:31). His love is ‘no emotional reaction, but rather a unilateral love shaped by His character.’ (Henry Morriss III) God’s love for us is unconditional and continuous.

Even Christians can hold God at a distance, building walls to defend ourselves from hurt. But God sees through all our defences and wants to meet our deepest needs. There is ‘so much more to be revealed’, but we need to be willing to receive His love and accept that His love can meet our deepest needs.

As Michael W. Smith has sung, no matter how unworthy, unwise, unwilling and unteachable we have been, the one thing we know is that we have never been unloved. ‘It’s because of You, and all that You went through, I know that I have never been unloved.’
‘Never Been Unloved’, Michael W. Smith