Happy Valentine’s Day, 2021. You probably know this already, but this widely-celebrated-love-holiday was named after St. Valentine. What you might not know is that his love story is one of a very different kind than that of chocolate hearts and roses.
As the story is told, the heart of Saint Valentine pumped to preach the gospel and minister to the persecuted Christians of his day with a message of God’s ever-enduring love for them. His love-language landed him in prison.
While under house arrest, the jailer brought his daughter, who suffered with blindness, to St. Valentine for healing prayer. We’re told St. Valentine laid hands on the daughter and prayed over her and her sight was restored. All was well and grace and favor granted.
But not so fast with the happily ever after…
St. Valentine, with a heart continuing to beat for the gospel of Jesus Christ, and went straight to Emperor Claudius with this powerful message. The emperor wasn’t as impressed and ordered his death by execution.
Legend has it, upon the day of his execution in 269 AD, he left a simple note for the once-blind jailer’s daughter signed with this simple message — “Your Valentine.”
As traditions and legends of love have been passed down from generation to generation and whatever may have happened back in 269 AD, today I find a connection with the story of a heart at rest in times of trouble and unrest.
St. Valentine knew to whom his heart belonged and he traced His Father’s own heart as a template to live out each day.
His story called me to my own places of rest.
Quarantine and Rest
Like me, you may have related to his “house arrest” and our all-to-familiar quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve had less contact with the outside world as we’ve known it. Life has been at a stand-still while we wait for the surge of cases to subside and hope and pray for a way to the other side …far away from this terrible storm.
Church doors were closed for awhile only to re-open half-way to allow for social distancing and attempts to slow the spread of this awful virus.
Work and school moved into the home turning dining room tables into desks loaded with books and computers. Masks continue to be lined up at the door, readily available when encountering any other human being on the other side of that safe haven we call home.
It’s been almost a full year of this “safer at home” kind of mandate and I had to ask myself the question, after all this, has my heart learned to be at rest?
Have I learned the rhythm of rest that transcends whatever the circumstances? The rest that anchors the soul steady in any crashing waves of emotions and crisis?
Have any of us really learned to be at rest? Isn’t there something to being at rest — even in trials and trouble …suffering and uncertainties?
Am I at rest with who I am in Christ? At rest with my future (and the future of those I love) held in His arms? At rest with whatever may come today knowing my Father is already on the scene? At rest with my failures from yesterday — knowing that, too, has been put to rest in His field of grace…
No striving. No stress. No anxiety. All is at rest.
A heart that beats in rhythms steady and sure, unstoppable by circumstances …adding percussion to the most beautiful symphony ever composed.
I am His. I am loved. I am in the arms of my Everlasting Father. All is well. My heart IS at rest because I’m resting in His heart of love.
And in that rest, it looks like St. Valentine’s story ended “happily ever after” after all.
Romans 8:35-39 TPT
38 So now I live with the confidence that there is nothing in the universe with the power to separate us from God’s love. I’m convinced that his love will triumph over death, life’s troubles, fallen angels, or dark rulers in the heavens. There is nothing in our present or future circumstances that can weaken his love.
39 There is no power above us or beneath us—no power that could ever be found in the universe that can distance us from God’s passionate love, which is lavished upon us through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One!