Gus (age three): “Daddy, where Nana?”  Daddy: “She left on the plane last night after you went to bed.”  Gus: “Me miss Nana!”  As you can imagine, my “love-o-meter” was on overflow when I heard about that conversation.
My daughter-in-love texted me a picture that Henry (age seven) submitted to his school journal. It showed two stick people, one clearly labeled “Nana” and the other, “me”.  We had our arms wound around each other and underneath the picture he wrote: “My Nana came to town and it was AWESOME!”  (Be still my heart.)
Love. A simple word with so many meanings.  At this time of year we envision flowers, cards with hearts, romance and chocolate.  Charlie and I recently attended a wonderful dinner sponsored by our church, at a local resort restaurant – an early celebration of Valentine’s Day.
I love watching “chick flicks”, at least the ones that honor a moral code.  Nothing like a good romance, with all the complications of the story (assuming the guy and gal end up together!). Of course, Hollywood has tarnished the whole idea of romantic love but, thankfully, through Christian sources there are still some lovely movies available.
Is love limited to those “feel good” moments?  Are we loving each other only when we are smiling and laughing?
I would suggest that love often makes strong demands on us.  Deep love happens in the dark and tough events of life.  The “Jesus on the cross”… kinds of events. The sacrificial loss of life during war…. kinds of events.  First Responders putting their own lives in danger…kinds of events.
Real love means choosing to birth and love the baby in the womb who has been diagnosed with Down syndrome.  That one stares me in the face every time I spend time with my six year old grandson, Jacob. Love is being in for the long haul.
Real love means working hard on marriage, sitting with a counselor and walking through the human sin areas to get to the other side. 
Real love may take the form of “tough love” with an errant teenager or a loved one who needs help with an addiction. 
Real love may be choosing to make funds available for a ministry instead of purchasing more ____ (fill in the blank). “Sacrificial giving”?  It doesn’t even compare with the sacrifice Jesus made as he looked down from the cross, praying,” Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
There is an old song containing the words, “What the world needs now, is love, sweet love.”  I would certainly agree with those words but I wonder if the writer had a clue how muchthe world needs real love.
There are many verses in the Bible on love; after all, the Bible is the greatest love story ever told. 1 Corinthians 3:13, “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”   There are also scriptures highlighting God’s love for us using words like “discipline”, “reproves”, “speaking truth”. (Proverbs 3:12, Hebrews 2:6, Revelation 3:19, to name a few.)
As we approach Valentine’s Day, let’s turn our hearts toward the God Who spoke love to us through the words of His book.  As we pray for guidance and direction, I challenge us to allow God to reprove and discipline us.  What is He asking me or you to do?  How much do we actually love God?  Is He our ALL or do we place Him out of sight at times?
I love my “Chick Flicks” and romance novels but what I want most of all is to deeply love The One Who created me, the One Who rescued, redeemed and restored me.  You know that picture Henry drew?  I envision God and I wrapping our arms around each other when I step into eternity and I can’t wait to hear the words, “Judy, I love you” as I look at Jesus’ nail pierced hands.