A Valentine from Heaven
Judy A Bauman
It was two days before Valentine’s Day 1997, and though my life looked wonderful from every angle, deep down I was miserable. I tried ‘to be a good person’ and live my life in a way that would be pleasing to my fellowman, but all the community works I was juggling did not fill the void in my soul. At the end of the day, I was exhausted and empty. Occasionally, I would get a glimpse of why I was so unhappy and what I needed – I needed the Lord! Sadly, I would quickly reject this notion because it wasn’t convenient to my lifestyle. Rejecting God was justifiable in my mind because I knew I couldn’t live up to His standards. Though I looked to the world for acceptance and comfort, I never seemed fulfilled. I was in a frightening and unwinnable battle.
The void began when my father suddenly passed away. He was only 43 years old and left behind a wife and three children, as well as his parents who daily relied on his help. Well-meaning clergy told us, “God must have needed him,” and that “he was in a better place.” This didn’t bring consolation to my grief-stricken heart. My sister, brother, and I were sent to live with relatives that summer. Though young, my sister was soon married and moved to her own place. My brother’s bedroom was the walk-in closet of our aunt’s teenage boys – placing him continually at their mercy. My bedroom housed the huge gas floor furnace in the unfinished basement. Night after night I would earnestly cry out to God from that room, “Why my dad, why me?” I agonized over the loss of my dad and listened for an answer, but none came. I also learned to listen for sneaking feet coming down the stairs in the middle of the night. It was a time fraught with dangers for my brother and I.
Meanwhile, my mother worked to stabilize our housing so we could come back and live with her. Unfortunately, her life was also full of snares, so it took more time than we ever imagined. Three years later, we moved into a home with her and the nightly threats and torment were over. Though I was often rebellious, we had many good times together. We traveled some and even spent an entire summer in Oregon. After coming back to our home state of Colorado, the unthinkable happened. Doctors diagnosed my mother with breast cancer. I never doubted that she would recover (because surely God would not ‘take’ her too). However, after a few years, and much suffering, she succumbed to the ravages of the disease. At her funeral I again heard from well-meaning folks, “She’s in a better place,” and “God must have needed her.” Really? More than her children? It did not sit well.
Deeply dismayed, my confusion turned to anger that burned hot against God. He seemed selfish and more like a big bully who was no different from Greek gods who threw lightning bolts or hit people with a huge hammer. I decided if God was so selfish that He needed my parents more than their three children did, I didn’t want anything to do with Him. I would live my life my way, not His! Anytime the subject of God came up, I was like a cornered cat ready to fight; my cynicism towards Christianity and disdain for Christians grew. Some would try to explain to me how the Lord was loving, kind, and good. I reasoned, if God were truly loving, why wouldn’t He have kept my parents from dying? If He were kind and good, why wouldn’t He just put an end to all the suffering and evil in the world?
This is where I found myself on the morning of February 12, 1997 – drowning in my own sorrow. Deep down I knew only God could rescue me. I saw on the calendar that it was not only two days from Valentine’s Day, but also the first day of Lent. Oddly, something went off inside me. It was HOPE! Jesus had been drawing me to Himself for months, and though I had been keeping Him at arm’s length, I could ignore Him no longer. God was throwing a lifeline into my Pit of Despair, and I prayed that if I clung onto it, He would be merciful and pull me out.
I found an old Bible and began to read in Psalm 107: Then I cried to the Lord in my trouble and He saved me from my distress; He sent forth His word and healed me and saved me from destruction! I fell to my knees, and thanked Him for His goodness. I repented of sinning against Him. Later I found in John 10:10 where Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” This Scripture immediately dispelled the lie that God had killed my parents. I saw the “thief” had come to kill, steal, and destroy – not my heavenly Father. Oh, friends, how might that have eased my suffering had someone shared that truth with me from early on?
In that moment, the Holy Spirit gave me great freedom, and peace flooded my soul. I knew Jesus didn’t condemn me but filled my emptiness with joy. He adopted me! As a child of God, I had a sense of belonging that I had never known. I began reading and truly studying the Bible. I saw it was like a beautiful tapestry that, through many authors over thousands of years, God had woven together. I could have never imagined it, but I found the Bible to be wonderful and freeing.
You do not have to be an orphan to experience the debilitating wounds from being abandoned or rejected. We each have our own story of how we’ve been beaten and battered. We have fought with discouragement, doubt, and unbelief. At some point, all of us have been, or will be, wounded by different tragedies and heartbreaks. Our heavenly Father’s desire is for all mankind to experience His forgiveness and abiding love. The most wonderful Valentine’s gift anyone could ever receive is to be adopted by the King of kings! Being reconciled to God is a gift that anyone can accept at any time.
“God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”
He gave His best so we can live abundantly. Every day is Valentine’s Day with Jesus!
Revised February 12, 2016