February 14

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4

It is a good thing to “rejoice in the Lord.” Perhaps you have tried it but seemed to fail at first. Don’t give it a second thought, and forge ahead. Even when you cannot feel any joy, there is no spring in your step, nor any comfort or encouragement in your life, continue to rejoice and “consider it pure joy” (James 1:2). Whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2), regard it as joy, delight in it, and God will reward your faith. Do you believe that your heavenly Father will let you carry the banner of His victory and joy to the very front of the battle, only to calmly withdraw to see you captured or beaten back by the enemy? NEVER! His Holy Spirit will sustain you in your bold advance and fill your heart with gladness and praise. You will find that your heart is exhilarated and refreshed by the fullness within. (Streams in the Desert)

Valentine’s Day is not a holiday to observe, but a sequence to savor. It is one moment to push pause among other quite ordinary moments and really see the other, and in the seeing learn something that changes yourself. . . .

I met the best part of my life at a predetermined place and time. We planned to meet outside the Navarro County courthouse in Corsicana, having mutually agreed to eating lunch together at a neutral site so that either or both of us could make a graceful exit should the experience prove uncomfortable or unbearable. I arrived first, and sat in my pickup nervously waiting for her to pull up. When she did, even from a distance I could see that she was attractive, and her arrival in a sporty Acura RSX made me feel all the more awkward and out of place. I sat frozen to the stained bench seat of my old Ford while she waited for me to exit my truck and walk over to greet her. After what seemed an eternity to us both, I garnered enough courage to make my way to her open window. We exchanged greetings and I invited her to join me for lunch a few blocks away at Roy’s Cafe on Beaton Street. The date was off to a sluggish start, largely because I proved adept at all the wrong things. She chose healthy salad-something while I doused my chicken fried steak in ketchup, but for reasons known only to her she agreed to extend our date by walking together down Beaton and stepping into antique shops. To my surprise and utter delight, we kept finding reasons to prolong the experience, extending the date a full eight hours. What was even more unexpected was her willingness to see me again. We married six months later. The attraction is stronger now than ever because it has deepened into appreciation. I recognize the value of my wife and can honestly say that I see God’s grace in her eyes every morning. . . . This is not love defined by attraction; it is far more meaningful than that. It is appreciation, satisfaction, adoration, respect, friendship, astonishment and passion enough for a lifetime. Thank God I got out of the truck and said “hello.”

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