Paper Hearts

by Elizabeth Sandman

We love because He first loved us. - 1 John 4:19

This verse has been hanging on our art wall in our dining room since Valentine's Day. My son, Noah, came home from school with a large, roughly cut out pink heart decorated with confetti and this verse glued crookedly in the middle. To an outsider this heart may appear insignificant or as trash, but to me it means more than I can describe with words. I have had this verse memorized since I was a little girl in Sunday school (so almost 25 years ago!), but for some reason when my son came home that day with this heart I began to tear up and was overwhelmed with emotions of both thankfulness and conviction.

Let me explain.

I have never doubted God's love for me and have felt His presence so richly throughout my life. His love has never faltered for me, regardless of my own actions or heart condition. To say I am thankful and completely overwhelmed by the depths of His love is an understatement!

Now why am I convicted? To explain that I will share a bit about myself.

I am currently in the season of raising three small children who are 5, 3, and 9 months. Beautiful. Messy. And at times, just plain hard. Looking at this verse I am reminded of how I must posture my heart each day. I must respond in love. Always. Not because my children are perfect and easy to love at all times, but because of His love.

I love how the Jesus Storybook Bible describes this:

You see, no matter what, in spite of everything, God would love his children – with a Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love.

- Sally Lloyd Jones

May we strive to pour out this type of love because of the love that we have received from Him. May our love be so different that it cannot help but point to Christ as the true source.

You may not have Noah's misshaped heart to look at multiple times a day as a reminder (sorry that stays at our house!), but my prayer for us all is that we would lean into all situations and just love. Unconditionally. Deeply. Fully.

We love because He first loved us.