It’s a small town – one of those kinds of towns people make jokes about. You’ve heard ‘em – “that town is so small that when you dial the wrong number, the person on the other end gives you the right number. It’s so small that there’s no place to go that you shouldn’t. It’s so small that Second Street is on the edge of town.”
Valentine, Texas is such a small town – a dusty hamlet nestled between Van Horn and Marfa on State Highway 90. Population: a whopping 131.
But once a year, as Valentine’s Day approaches, this small town becomes a romantic mecca of sorts as cards & letters pour into the little adobe post office. The reason? Lovers want their correspondence stamped with the Valentine,Texas postmark, which is newly designed every year by a student from the local school system.
One morning, Postmaster Maria Elena Carasco was moving a box of Valentine cards when she heard a faint, haunting voice in Spanish: “Hola, bonita,” the voice said. “Hello, beautiful.” For a split second, she felt like the tiny post office was haunted. Was it the voice of her dearly-departed husband, who had died unexpectedly of a heart attack? Maria Elena pulled out the cards and began hand-canceling each one with the Valentine postmark. Then she came across a talking greeting card, the kind with the little voice box inside. It said, “Hola, bonita.” “Hello, beautiful.” Maria Elena laughed. The card would soon make its way to someone’s hands and heart, reminding her again of why Valentine’s Day was her favorite time of the year.
Two thousand years ago, God sent a Valentine’s Card to earth, postmarked with the precious blood of his own Son. The outside of the card was simple, even rustic, but the inside contained a message that was as stunning as it was beautiful:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him will not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16 KJV).
Hallmark probably doesn’t issue a card that says, “I will die for you, Beloved, and set you free.” But this divine Valentine did — and does. As marred as we are by sin, as much as we have spurned our Heavenly Lover, God still pursues us. To this day, He aches to set us free by the only love that can. God can see His image stamped on our souls and yearns to restore it through the gentle touch of His Son.
God comes not just with a message, but comes as the message. As the Word, God came to earth Himself with words of grace and acceptance. Some dashed into His arms, realizing they would never find such a love on earth. Others chose to love themselves and the ways of the world, rejecting the Divine Lover.
But the Romancer of Souls never rejects us. We can reject Him a thousand times over, and He will continue to extend His scarred hands to us. As the 14th century mystic, Julian of Norwich, writes, “A mother can hold her child tenderly to her breast, but our tender mother, Jesus, can lead us in friendly fashion into his blessed breast by means of his sweet open side. And there show us something of the godhead and the joys of heaven with a spiritual assurance of endless bliss.”
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden,” Jesus says, “and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28 KJV). No, your life won’t be perfect in His arms. But you will be perfected, if you will just stay there.