How are you? I hope this post finds you well. I am also doing fine. Two of my friends are here, Rachel (20) and Joanna (18) Knowles. They have given their time to come to Italy and teach English courses with our family. In fact, we have English registration tonight! It's so exciting. We have passed out over 1,000 fliers around our city! It's really exciting to think of the ways that God might use us in these people's lives. Yesterday was Valentines Day so we passed out 160 roses to the citizens of our town, Chiavari. I can't even begin to tell you how many times the roses were rejected. The people could not comprehend the fact that we were giving the roses away! a free gift for those who were willing to accept it. At first, I couldn't understand why anyone would reject such a gift, especially on Valentines Day, but then I realized something. The roses that we passed out were a symbol of God's love. Even though the roses will wither and die, God's love never does. This is a hard concept to grasp, that God would love someone like them, like me. Why would he love ME? Why would someone just give a rose away? there must be some trick! they will hand me the rose and then ask me for money and I will feel guilty enough to pay. This is the same reasoning behind why people don't accept God's love. Especially, Roman Catholics. Roman Catholicism is heavily based on works and how you can earn your way to heaven. However, the Bible says in Ephesians 2:8-9,
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast."
It is not something we can earn through our own merits. It is a simple act of love and mercy from God. He didn't HAVE to save us, but He chose to because He loved the world so much that He gave His son to die on the cross for our sins. It is not of our own doing, there is NOTHING and I repeat NOTHING that we can do to earn it. We are sinful and our "good deeds" are always tarnished by our sinfulness. Thankfully! God grants forgiveness to those who accept his love, to those who accept his free gift. In fact, I saw a simple reminder of this when we were passing out the roses. The look on the people's faces when they realized they really were free and there was no trick behind it. The came up to us, thanked us, hugged us, laughed, cried, and starred in amazement that something like this could really be true. That's how awesome God's love is, you can't believe it but it's true. And he's waiting for you to accept his gift. If you already have, you know how awesome it truly is. Share that free gift with someone else, let them know just how much God really loves them.
Even though I was kind of cranky on Valentine's because of not having a valentine, I'm actually thankful I didn't. I realized how much God loves me and that I don't need the love of someone to make me fulfilled. I hope you realize that too! Happy Late Valentine's Day!