Friday, February 15, 2008

Spontaneous Valentines

I did something really unusual yesterday. I gave my wife a dozen red roses. Flowers on Valentines Day? Not normal.

Joyfully and contentedly married for sixteen years now, I have given Sarah flowers on Valentines Day maybe two or three times, not counting yesterday. She hasn’t given me even a single bud on a Valentines Day. It’s not that we’re Valentines Day Scrooges—Bah! Humbug!—thinking the gift of flowers and chocolate an unnecessary display of financial irresponsibility. We’ve opted for something we think is better—spontaneous and reckless displays of authentic affection.

On Valentines Day, 2008, she never saw it coming. “Ohh! Husband!” she beamed.

I have given Sarah flowers dozens of times, but not once did she expect them. Every time I’ve delicately placed a bunch in her arms, her glowing face asked, “Why?!” Answering that question was both her delight and mine. Sarah deeply enjoyed hearing me tell her why in particular I loved her, or what little something she had done that had prompted spontaneous flowers out of her no-longer-secret lover. And I can tell you that I deeply enjoyed the exercise of love as well. Just thinking about running out and grabbing a bouquet stimulated my affection. And when I expressed it to Sarah in the form of flowers, my affection was consummated or completed by the act.

She was delightfully satisfied, and so was I.

I’ve learned that something similar is true in my affair with God. Sure, I thank Him and praise Him regularly for the general blessings of being His son—He’s made me holy and blameless and secured me in heaven. Even now, genuine thankfulness wells-up within me. But I like to ask God to do something unusual in the day, something unexpected toward me, something that would dazzle me, something that would result in my being delighted with Him. Simply, I’m only taking advantage of what I know Him to be—Dazzling. And not a little bit surprising.

Because I have stimulated my own expectations about God in the day (you might call it living by faith), I find myself eagerly curious about every encounter or phone call or email. I’m much more alive because I’m anticipating Him showing Himself or doing something obvious. The odds of me recognizing His movement, or of me hearing His thoughts or feeling His emotions have increased. I’m rarely disappointed. And if my happy laughter or a knowing smile lighting my face because of something I’ve caught God doing constitute flowers for God, then He’s got loads and loads from me.

And not one bouquet was obligatory.

One more thing. For the first time, Emma and Ellen received Valentines roses from me, too. Flowers all over the place. Happy girls all around.

Happy man, too.

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