Valentine’s Day is not a day single people usually like to observe. When you don’t have a Valentine, the day seems pointless—or even like a slap in the face. Valentine’s Day can be a day people feel even more alone because they hear about all of the flowers, candies, and fancy dinners enjoyed by friends and acquaintances.
For me, Valentine’s Day was just another day. I went to work and was at a vantage point where I saw what people were buying their Valentine for later that evening. So many people poured into the store seeking out flowers and candy. Roses. Chocolates. Hours passed. Then someone came up to me with a single carnation. We didn’t sell single carnations. The lady handed me the carnation, smiled and said, “Everyone needs a Valentine.”
I looked down at the slip of paper attached to the flower. It was a church outreach with John 3:16 written along with their church information. I smiled and placed the flower to the side. You see, some people might consider themselves alone on Valentine’s Day, or any day for that matter, but you always have a Valentine. For God so loves you. You are never alone. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not on Valentine’s Day. You are loved.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16 [NIV]
In life we spend a lot of time in the here and now. We see things from a temporal scope rather than an eternal scope. God has a different time scheme than us. We consider our lives here on earth as our lives. Even when we say we have accepted Jesus and will have eternal life, we again and again take ourselves back to considering time as the time we spend on earth.
As we make plans for our lives, as we look at our lives, we see what time we have here on earth. It’s great to plan. It’s great to consider our steps. But we always must have an eternal focus as well. Our life here on earth is such a short blimp of our eternal life. It’s nothing compared to eternity.
Now Jesus said we aren’t to “waste… energy striving for perishable food… [but] work for the food that sticks with you, food that nourishes your lasting life, food the Son of Man provides.” So how do you do that? You read His Word. You pray for direction from the Spirit. He will provide you with nourishment, spiritual nourishment that will help you to grow in Him and the nourishment will last forever. You might think its okay to snack here and there, but the truth is the food that matters is the food that sticks with you. May you seek His food and may you see things from His eternal perspective. Life is so different when you see things through Him.
“Don’t waste your energy striving for perishable food like that. Work for the food that sticks with you, food that nourishes your lasting life, food the Son of Man provides. He and what he does are guaranteed by God the Father to last.”
-John 6:27 [MSG]
People are not always reliable for one reason or another. We often let each other down. We oversleep. We double schedule by accident. We run late. We don’t pay attention or lose focus. We misunderstand. We miscalculate. We even lie. I don’t think I would be far reaching to say that there is no person who did not let someone down.
In today’s passage, the Psalmist speaks about God who “has never let you down.” He further states that “He has never wandered off to do his own thing.” He is always there, always present, always caring, always loving—He is always.
We often wander off to do our own thing when we are supposed to be helping a friend, at work, attending a function, handling our parental responsibilities, etc. All we have is excuses for our shortcomings. But with God, there is no need for excuses. He never lets you down. He never wanders off. Today let us thank Him for always being present, for always listening, for always loving.
“Here’s the story I’ll tell my friends when they come to worship,
and punctuate it with Hallelujahs:
Shout Hallelujah, you God-worshipers;
give glory, you sons of Jacob;
adore him, you daughters of Israel.
He has never let you down,
never looked the other way
when you were being kicked around.
He has never wandered off to do his own thing;
he has been right there, listening.”
-Psalm 22:22-24 [MSG]
If you are the older sibling, you might have heard the phrase “look after” your brother or sister. If you are in a management position, your job is to “look after” whatever you are managing, and this usually includes a group of people. When you have children, you “look after” them.
Looking after someone requires time and attention. Looking after someone at its best requires love and dedication. Looking after someone or something requires caring. Looking after someone requires being intentional and present.
The author of Hebrews wrote, “Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God.” He went on to mention bitterness that leads to trouble and corruption. We spend a lot of time looking after ourselves, looking after our families, looking after our co-workers—let us not forget to look after our brothers and sisters.
“Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.” – Hebrews 12:15 [NLT]
Today I took a walk and it was really foggy outside. The funny thing about fog is that when you are walking through the fog, you cannot see ahead of you, and you cannot see behind you either. If you turn around to look where you just came from, you cannot see anything except for right where you are at– you can only focus on the present. It reminds me about how we are supposed to focus our attention on the present.
If we focus so much on the past, we are taking our focus off of God, because God is in the here and now. God is in the present, right now, with us, working, clearing the path, preparing us, by our side– He is with us! If we are trying to focus on the past… oh I wish I could have done that better…oh I wish I never did this… why did I do that… how did this happen… you feel so much of a failure and you focus so much attention on the past that you are not allowing your focus to be on God and right now so that good things can happen… so that you can focus on your purpose for now and move ahead.
In the same sense you cannot focus on the future. It’s okay to have a vision. It’s okay to plan things out. It’s not okay when you start becoming afraid of what is going to happen. If you start focusing too much attention on the future of all the great things that are going to happen, as well, you take your focus off of God.
C.S. Lewis has a book called “the Screwtape Letters.” Letter 15 talks about the danger of focusing on the past, because God’s not there, and focusing on the future. The future he says, inflames fear and hope. The past is “frozen and no longer flows.” The present, he says, “is all lit up with eternal rays.” Gratitude looks to the past. Love looks to the present. Fear, lust, and ambition looks to the future. As Matthew 6:34 states, we need to not worry about tomorrow because today has enough worries.
God gives us all we need to handle today. We just need to be focused on today to see that. It’s okay to have plans. It’s good to have a vision for your life. We cannot get so involved about what happened in the past (because God has already forgiven us for that) that we don’t focus on the here and now. You cannot get so involved in what God is going to do with you in the future, because you won’t listen then to what He is saying right now. Jeremiah 29:11 gave us the promise. He wants us to have hope and He wants us to have a future.
We need to focus on right now, today, and listen to what He is saying. There are times when we are not going to hear things. There are times when we won’t get the answer we want. If you are confused right now about which direction you are to take in life… if you have decisions you need to make and you prayed about it and you don’t think you’ve gotten enough answers on which way to go, but you know you need to go in a certain direction… it’s okay to take a step forward. God is with you. If it’s the wrong step, you’ll know. You’ll find out. It’s okay to make mistakes. God uses those mistakes to teach us some important lessons.
Don’t focus on the fog in your life. Don’t focus on the past. It’s okay to learn from your mistakes and it’s okay to grow from your mistakes, but don’t focus on the past. At the same time, don’t focus on the future. It’s okay to have a vision for your life. It’s okay to have hopes and dreams, but understand that God is in the present- He’s in the here and now and He’s working with you to get to the future. It’s all about your eternal life, not just about this one moment. And so you need to focus on the present, and in the end, no matter what, God is always with you.
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
– Matthew 6:34 [NIV]
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
– Jeremiah 29:11 [ESV]