Valentines by the Numbers

Would you like to know who in America receives the most Valentine’s Day cards every single year? Sweethearts, lovers? Mothers, fathers? Children, classmates? Pastors? (Oops—pardon that Freudian slip.) Who gets more Valentine’s cards than anybody else? Give up? Answer: teachers. It’s true—our beloved school teachers receive more cards than any other category of recipients. So all of you elementary education majors—look what you have to look forward to! Actually retailers look forward to Valentine’s Day, too. According to the National Retail Federation, total spending for this “holiday” (celebrated not only in this country, but also in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Denmark, and Australia) will reach a whopping $15.7 billion (with men spending nearly twice the amount as women)! Let’s face it—love is never cheap. One billion cards will be sent worldwide, making Valentine’s Day second only to Christmas. $1.7 billion will be spent on flowers (200 million roses were produced for Valentine’s Day last year). $1.5 billion on candy ($1 billion of which is for chocolate alone). Anybody surprised? But here’s another love statistic to brood over: one. That’s right—one. Because that’s the number of people in the upper room that fateful night who had love on His mind—not love for a sweetheart or even for His closest friends, but a solitary love for this race of broken-down and broken-hearted. No flowers, no chocolates, no Cupid’s arrow through the heart for Him—just the form of a slave, stripped naked to the waist, stooped over twelve pairs of dusty feet with a basin of water and a towel. “Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end” (John 13:1). “He loved them to the end.” Because that’s the truth about the heart of God—stopped—not with Cupid’s arrow—but with a Roman lance. Stopped—not by a lance—but by love. To the very end. So that the end wouldn’t have to be the end for the likes of you and me. So why wouldn’t we love Him back? With all our hearts. To the end. Or until they stopped. For the One.