Permission Granted!

By Pastor Rob Fuquay | 02/8/2019
Retired Methodist pastor Bill Bouknight shares this wonderful Valentine's Day story...
The writer Drew Duke recalled from her childhood her second grade Valentine's Day party. Several days earlier a big decorated box had been placed at the front of the room by the teacher. It had a slit in the top. Each student had been invited to bring valentines addressed to friends and to drop them into the box. Then on Valentine's Day, one student was designated by the teacher as the postman to distribute the cards. Earlier that week Drew's mother had bought a package of 35 valentine cards. Drew asked her, "Why did you buy so many?" She replied, "So you can give one to each person in your class." "No ma'am," Drew said, "We don't do it that way. We only give cards to our special friends. I only need four cards. I don't even like some of the people in my class." Her mother said nothing else. Drew signed four cards and put the names on the front.

Everybody was excited when the Valentine's Party began. The girl designated as postman began calling the names and handing out the cards. Some very popular children got bunches of cards. Drew heard her name called quite often and was having a wonderful time. But then she became aware that the little girl sitting in front of her had received no cards. Her head was drooping lower and lower. Then suddenly the postman called this little girl's name and delivered to her one valentine. Her face lit up like morning sunshine. She tore open that valentine, hurrying to see who had cared enough to send it. Drew looked over her shoulder and saw that it was signed "Your secret admirer." The little girl smiled and glanced around the room, wondering who it could be. "But", said Drew, "I knew who it was but I didn't tell. I recognized my mother's handwriting." Her mother had obtained a class roster and had sent a card to every child in the class. Drew learned from her mother what her mother learned from God: that God's love reaches even the unlovely, and everybody is invited to God's party!
One of the Apostle Paul's most famous sentences is what we call the nine fruit (not fruits!) of the Spirit. But have you ever paid attention to the next sentence: "Against such things there is no law." I love that statement. We don't need anyone's permission to show love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, etc. Nothing can stop us. And when we do, someone's life is usually changed beyond our understanding.
Can I be honest for a minute? I am seeing this happen in our church. It's like there is a love revolution happening-but I'm not talking about the sixties! For some reason I am watching more and more of you take it upon yourselves, without someone asking or permitting you, to recognize and engage people at church. I keep hearing from newcomers how they have been impressed by the way people just start up conversations with them and get to know them.
Honestly, this may be the most important thing God does in our church! When we just notice people it communicates to someone they are worth noticing. And many people walk into our doors every week more than a little doubtful of that truth. When we look for ways to interact and engage people around us, God uses our "noticing" to let people know how God feels about them. What better time than the week of Valentine's Day to strike up that conversation with a stranger. Oh, and like the little girl whose mother sent the secret messages, it makes us feel pretty special too!