(Pastor's note: For the last two years I have been privileged to lead mentored ministry sessions with Jennifer Agan, an M.Div. student at Gordon-Conwell who lives in Signal Mountain, TN. We have only met in person once, two years ago, as Jennifer takes her classes by Digital Live and all our conferences have been by Zoom. She shared this devotional on Valentine's Day at a Retirement Center, and I asked if we could excerpt part of it for this week's Imagine Church devotional. Jennifer also teaches school, and she and her husband, John, have four children.)

Four children sit around a table. Scissors snip, paper crinkles, and crayons scratch construction paper. White doilies, pink tissue paper, and a rainbow of colored hearts complete the scene of the valentine creation party. Curiously, the mother looks over the shoulders of her children. Her eyes fall on the five-year-old's folded pink construction paper card. Upon it is a drawing of a red Crayola heart with a magic marker face. Blue tears drip out of its eyes falling toward the bottom of the page.

The mother's heart breaks, as she reaches out to God in silent prayer. "Please, Lord, hear me," she begins, as the words of Psalm 121 flow, "I lift up my eyes to the mountains. From where does my help come? My help comes from you, Lord, who made heaven and earth."

"For a moment, stop the valentine-making process," she says. "Instead I want each of you to draw me a mountain." The mother hands each of them a blank piece of light blue construction paper. Slowly the mother speaks the beginning of Psalm 121 knowing that mountains bring you closer to God.

The mother looks lovingly at her children. "I understand your fear, moving from our home in New Orleans to Signal Mountain is scary. Nevertheless, 'we will lift our eyes to the mountains and remember where our help comes from.' Our help comes from the Lord. The Lord is your shadow, your shade, and your invisible friend who walks beside you whether you remain in New Orleans or move to Signal Mountain. Being closer to God will bring you each closer to God's love. God watches, guards, and protects those who believe."

"Momma," asks the five-year-old. "May I make a Valentine for God? God is my new best friend."

"Yes, of course you can. I think that God would like that very much," replies the mother. Hearing those confirming words, the little girl folds another piece of pink construction paper and begins to draw a red heart with a beautiful smiling face.

 

In the name of the One who can do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,
Jennifer Agan, M.Div. student,
Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Charlotte

 

A Child’s Valentine Brings Us Closer to God

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