My Dear Val

Can you remember that wonderful film ‘Love Actually’?

You already know I’m a hopeless romantic so why be surprised about my deep fondness for ‘Love Actually”?????

The scene at the airport – where it shows loved ones, be they couples, parents and their children, family members, friends – greeting one another in feverish excitement – a range of emotions – tears of joy – tears of sadness – a seemingly endless display of love in all its various forms – I JUST LOVE IT!!!

Ok…before going any further I have to confess that I’ve been struggling as to how to explain this next bit. Whether to tell you exactly the way it is, or whether to mix it a little so as not to sound weird.

I’ve decided to tell you exactly the way it is.

If you think I’m weird then so be it! I’ll still love ya!

The reason I love that scene so much is because it is something I’ve always enjoyed observing at international airports.

Ask anyone in my family and they will tell you that Segs has always enjoyed going to the airport to meet family members or friends (maybe not so much in Nigeria, as it really isn’t much fun having to wait outside!!).

Why?

Because there are few things more facinating than observing the wonderful reactions of loved ones greeting each other at airports. I’ve always found it so moving.

For years I would jump at every opportunity to go and meet a family member at Heathrow or Gatwick airport.

I always got to the airport at least two / three hours before the flight arrived so that I could observe passengers of other flights meeting their loved ones at arrival.

Each greeting told its own story – love, excitement, sadness, dread, fear, you name it – all there – plain to see.

Why on earth am I wittering on about Love Actually and airports????

Ah yes…LOVE – and its countless depictions.

Our generation seems to have allowed the media to decieve us about the true meaning of love.

Love is painted as a somewhat magical feeling of romance, excitement, physical beauty, and all manner of extravagance.

Add to the mix expensive jewelry, watches, holidays, cars, apartments and so forth, and I’m sure you’ll agree with me that love seems to have given way to ‘material gratification’.

I’m certainly not against excitement or expensive gifts. Indeed such things can be very pleasant.

But this media conjured ‘love’ that we all seem to subscribe to is simply NOT sustainable.

For many of us it certainly isn’t financially sustainable.

But more importantly, for all of us, that magical feeling of romance, excitement and passion is most definitely NOT sustainable.

Once again, I am absolutely NOT against romance and excitement.

In-fact the more the better.

I did a little research with regards to the origins of Valentine’s day.

Emperor Claudius II banned marriages because he believed that his soldiers would fight more effectively if they were single. In other words he didn’t want to have young married men who were missing their wives leading the front line. Can’t say I blame him to be honest.

However there was a priest called Valentine who believed in the importance of marriage. As such he proceeded to marry young couples in secret.

When the emperor found out he was incensed.

Valentine was imprisoned, tortured and executed.

One of the people who was supposed to judge him was a man called Asterius.
Asterius’ daughter was blind.

It is believed that during his incarceration Valentine prayed with and healed Asterius’ daughter.

This led to Asterius giving his life to Christ.

In a letter Valentine wrote to Asterius’ daughter just before he was executed, he signed it ‘from your Valentine’.

The meaning of all this?

Valentine was willing to sacrifice his life for what he believed in.

Despite his incarceration and torture he continued to love others unconditionally.

We can all learn from this.

I love this quote from a priest called Father O’Gara.

“Valentine has come to be known as the patron saint of lovers. Before you enter into a Christian marriage you want some sense of God in your life — some great need of God in your life. And we know, particularly in the modern world, many people are meeting God through his Son, Jesus Christ.”

“If Valentine were here today, he would say to married couples that there comes a time when you’re going to have to suffer. It’s not going to be easy to maintain your commitment and your vows in marriage. Don’t be surprised if the ‘gushing’ love that you have for someone changes to something less “gushing” but maybe much more mature. And the question is, is that young person ready for that?”

“So on the day of the marriage they have to take that into context. Love — human love and sexuality is wonderful, and blessed by God — but also the shadow of the cross. That’s what Valentine means to me.”

So, what exactly is ‘love’?

– Love is patient

– Love is kind

– Love does not envy

– Love does not boast

– Love is not proud

– Love is not rude

– Love is not self seeking

– Love is not easily angered

– Love keeps no record of wrongs

– Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth

-Love always protects

-Love always trusts

-Love always hopes

-Love always perseveres

1st Corinthians 13

In summary, love is everything Christ is.

Every relationship is meant to be a mirror of Christ’s love for His bride (the church – the body of Christ).

I’ve said it before, and at the continued risk of sounding like a broken record, I shall not stop saying this until things start to change.

If our churches focus more on ‘Love’ and less on the ‘me me me’ nature of how God can bless us and help us to be successful then we all stand a better chance of leading our lives in the loving and selfless manner that Christ commanded.

Isn’t it rather odd that there are so many better examples of loving and selfless people OUTSIDE of our churches?????

Indeed, contrary to the nature and design of Christianity’s message of love and forgiveness, us ‘Christians’ are actually the most unforgiving of people – world-wide!

Something isn’t quite right there!!???

Who is to blame?

We are ALL to blame.

Let’s focus less on how we can be blessed and focus more on how we can love and serve one another.

For those that went out with loved ones on Valentine’s, I hope you enjoyed every second of your night out.

For those who plan to make a whole weekend of it, please do your utmost to enjoy and cherish every blessed moment.

Romance is bliss!

Fun is awesome!

You deserve a good time!!

God is NOT boring.

He wants us to have fun.

But spend a little time reading and digesting 1st Corinthians 13.

Yep – today.

And do the same for the next one week.

Apply the love described in 1st Corinthians 13 to your relationship.

To those that were on their own I say this;

“Do not despair. Remember – ‘Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.’ ”

Be thankful for the most unconditional and secure love that any man or woman could wish for – the love of Christ.

And remain steadfast in hope.

God will give you exactly what you need.

©Segun Akande

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