Summary: God has sent a Valentine’s card to you, postmarked with the blood of his precious Son.
It’s a small town – one of those kind of towns people make jokes about. You’ve heard ‘em – “that town is so small that when you dial the wrong number, the person on the other end gives you the right number.” "It’s so small that there’s no place to go that you shouldn’t." "It’s so small that Third Street is on the edge of town."
Valentine, Texas, population 200, is such a small town – a dusty hamlet “up the road a piece” from Marfa, perched on the edge of the Sierra Vieja Mountains near Mexico. But once a year, as Valentine’s Day approaches, this small town becomes famous around the world as cards & letters pour into the little adobe post office. The reason? Romantics want their love notes stamped with the Valentine, Texas postmark, which is newly designed every year by an elementary school student.
One morning, Postmaster Maria Elena Carasco was moving a box of Valentine cards when she heard a faint, haunting voice: “Hola, bonita,” the voice said. “Hello, beautiful.” For a split second, she felt like the tiny post office was haunted. Was it the voice of her dearly-departed husband, who had died unexpectedly of a heart attack? Maria Elena pulled out the cards and began hand-canceling each one with the Valentine postmark. Then she came across a talking greeting card, the kind with the little voice box inside. It said, “Hola, bonita.” “Hello, beautiful.” Maria Elena laughed. The card would soon make its way to someone’s hands and heart, reminding her again of why Valentine’s Day was her favorite time of the year.
Two thousand years ago, God sent a Valentine’s Card to earth, postmarked with the precious blood of his own Son. The outside of the card was simple, even rustic, but the inside contained a message that was as stunning as it was beautiful:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him will not perish, but have eternal life.”
“Hello, beautiful,” God has written. “You are my unique creation. I have made the ultimate sacrifice for you. I want you to follow me, and when you’re ready to leave the earth, we can spend all of eternity together. What d’ya say, Beautiful?”
The card has been signed, sealed and delivered. It waits – begs – to be opened. All it needs is someone to say “Yes” to the invitation.
Someone like you.
Did you know that God has been drawing and wooing you to Jesus before your first day of school, your first step, that first gulp of air when you were delivered? God has loved you in the womb, from the beginning of time. God’s love is like the great ocean of air that surrounds you at all times; you’ve hardly been aware of it. But now you’ve caught a fresh breeze, a waft of air from heaven. There’s something in the air, a divine whisper that’s faint at first, but becomes clearer as you listen. God is bringing you to a point of decision, the moment of truth, a critical spiritual junction. I suppose this message could also be called "Crossroads,” because God, in his amazing love, has placed the Cross at the intersection of life, a signpost of divine love that asks, “Which way will you go? Back to the old ways of bondage, fruitlessness, self-centered ways that get you nowhere? Or will you choose my way, narrow to be sure, but a road of adventuresome discipleship that leads all the way to heaven?”
A famous preacher named John Wesley, who lived centuries ago, compared God’s wooing love to a big porch. Everyone in the world is on this porch, enjoying a measure of his divine love—God’s blessings of sunshine, air, rain, joy and friendship that just come to us. But God doesn’t want us to stay on the porch. He gives us these good gifts to draw us into the house. His love requires a response. Wesley said that the door of God’s house is “justification.” We are "justified" when we respond to God’s love that has been there all along. Big words. . .big concepts. What does justification and justified mean?
If you look up these words in the dictionary, you will find several definitions.
Most of us are familiar with justified type on the printed page—a block of text that is perfectly even at the margins. God’s justifying grace takes a life worn ragged by sin and lines it up with love, mercy and tenderness.
“To be justified” is a legal term that means you have been vindicated. According to the Bible, we are all guilty before God and “the wages of sin is death.” We have been brought into the divine courtroom for sentencing. We wince as the charges are read, knowing that we have broken God’s law. The gavel comes down with awful force as the verdict thunders throughout the halls of justice: ‘NOT GUILTY!’ We look up. The bench is empty. The Judge has removed his robes and now stands beside us, volunteering to take the rap. All we have to do is say "yes" and we are free!