A girlfriend came to her boyfriend one day and asked him, “Darling, do you love me?” “Of course I love you,” he replied without hesitation.
“Do you love me enough to die for me?” she continued. “No!” he said.
“But I thought you said you love me?” she said. “Yes, I love you with an undying love!”
Today is Valentine’s Day and we celebrate undying love. Today in college, we will be also commemorating Total Defence Day (technically 15 February). I’ve been asked to mention this in today’s devotion and I was thinking about how to link the two: Valentine’s Day and Total Defence Day. Hopefully, it doesn’t come across as contrived, but let me try.
Let’s start with Valentine’s Day. We do not know exactly how Valentine’s Day came about. There are several legends purporting to be the origin of Valentine’s Day, but no definitive one. One of these tells of a Roman priest named Valentine during the 3rd century A.D., under Emperor Claudius II. A period of war, Claudius made the unpopular decision to ban marriage among young people, believing that unmarried soldiers fought better than married soldiers. This is where Valentine comes in; the pesky priest who believed marriage to be a God-given sacrament. Valentine began officiating marriages in secret but was found out. He was imprisoned and eventually beheaded. Because he gave up his life to perform the sacrament of marriage: for love of love and love of God, he was named a martyr by the church.
To me, Total Defence Day is about willing to sacrifice for love: the love of friends and family and country. For the guys, I know this might sound cliched, but the 2 years (last time it was 2 and a half years) of National Service; it’s not that we got to do it, it’s that we get to do it.
I went to watch “Ah Boys to Men 2” in the cinema with my wife some years ago. Honestly, there were some cringe-inducing scenes. “So corny”. But, and I kid you not, there was this one particular scene I remember from the show very vividly… probably the climatic scene of the show. The battalion was taking a route march and they ascended the Benjamin Sheares Bridge. As the music swelled up and the camera panned over the city skyline, I found myself thinking as tears welled up in my eyes, “It’s worth it. Serving my country is worth it. Those 2 and a half years of NS and subsequent reservist trainings were worth it.” Celebrating Total Defence Day is about remembering there are things worth sacrificing for.
So we have this idea that love involves sacrifice. In fact, sacrificial love is perhaps the greatest expression of love. Where did we get this notion? Let me posit, it’s because God is Himself a sacrificial God. Perhaps the most well know verse in the Bible is John 3:16. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son (Jesus), that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” And someone very astutely found the word “Valentine” in this verse.
God is our greater, better, truer Valentine. He it is who loved us and sacrificed His life for us, in order to save us from the consequences of our sin. Today as we celebrate undying love: love of friends, family and country… let us also celebrate dying love, the love of God for each of us.