V8 or Ginger Ale ?

We love Him because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19

For any of us who have had the experience of helping someone who is quite ill, the simplest of requests are those we want to meet. Recently while helping an elderly patient during an illness, frequently he asked me to get him V8 or ginger ale; the only beverages other than water that the doctor permitted. His ability to swallow was weak, but the taste of these liquids was welcome and refreshing. When I would take the cup to his lips and help him swallow, his entire expression was joyous. His thanksgiving and sincerity were generous for these little sips of relief. My cup runneth over for the grace to be able to hold his drinking cup.

Valentine candies, fancy hearts and decorations adorn shops and advertisements in this month of February. St. Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to express love but not in the simplicity of V8 or ginger ale. However, it is often in the common and every day activities that we really see the beauty and depth of love exchanged. Hearing the voice of a grandchild on the phone, being greeted by the dog at the end of the work day, receiving a text from an old friend, and seeing the familiar face of someone who puts a glow on your own, all speak of love. These are among the common yet treasured experiences in a day that make life worthwhile. And these are also a sampling of the reasons why the absence of them makes life so challenging.

When illness, death, estrangement, divorce, addiction, and other kinds of relational separations occur, there is a void in life that only Jesus can fill. He is the One, the only One, who can make up for the emotional or physical distances that hurt. Jesus is also the One to credit for having known such good moments that live on in memory. Jesus heals. He helps us keep believing in life and cherishing what was. A heart where the Lord is resident is a heart beating with true love that lasts and lives on. Whatever may or may not occur with given relationships that have changed, the Lord will not change. His ways are trustworthy. Jesus and His love are here to stay. Calvary’s Cross and His resurrection from death is our proof.

For the believer in Jesus, the Bible is His love letter. In it the Lord declares His love and offers His promises of love for everyone who believes in Him. Changes in our lives and in relationships will not change His heart toward us. This is valuable to remember when we change, and people in our lives do as well. Jesus stays. His love is fixed on you, on me. He wants us to count on that love. Eternally.

The next time you greet the dog at the door after work, linger a bit longer to pet him…he will love it. The next time your son or daughter calls, stop multi-tasking and listen…the Holy Spirit will give you something special to say. The next time you are called to sit beside a loved one and help nurse an illness, have your Bible on hand and choose a few passages that bring comfort and hope. When it is your turn to ask May I get you a V8 or ginger ale? drink in the moment yourself, for it is a moment both common and divine. Remember the good in love with gratitude. Leave uncertainties to God in prayer. Live in God’s love and grace—while it is now.

Lord, Your love for each person is deep and complete. No expression of Your love for us is insignificant. Therefore, when You place love in our hearts for each other, no expression of that love is small. Thank You, Lord Jesus, for the opportunities we are given by You each day to fulfill small loving acts for someone we love, to be recipients of the same, and have the gift of memory to hold close. Thank You, Lord Jesus, for Your heart in the Bible and for Your momentous act of love—dying so others could live. We love You, Lord Jesus. Every day and every season. You, Lord, are why we love. You always will be. Amen.