My Absent Valentine

“...no one besides God will understand me better on the New Earth, and there’s nobody whose company I’ll seek and enjoy more..." – Pastor Randy Alcorn

The love between a Christian man and woman is a beautiful thing—ordained by God but lived out in the crucible of daily human experience.

Just over 72 years ago, on October 1, 1949, my bride and I exchanged vows, pledging our love, our fidelity, our respect and our support to each other “till death us do part.”

It was a wonderful journey, full of delights and occasional disappointments, punctuated by happy surprises and infrequent sorrows. We lived with the expectancy but seldom-spoken knowledge that one day the parting would come.

That day came for us five years ago when Carol’s body finally succumbed to the ravages of cancer and God called her Home. 

Since then, Valentine’s Day has taken on a new perspective. I carefully shun attendance at the special Valentine’s Day luncheons prepared by the management of the independent living facility that now is my home. I rejoice with those who gather at the corps (church) for a women’s ministries Valentine’s party, but I choose not to go.

Instead, I spend February 14th reflecting on the 64 years we had together and on the memories, which, without exception, are happy ones.

I remember our first year of married life, spent in a tiny (population: 986) Wisconsin town where I taught school, and where we were influenced by the faithful, sacrificial ministry of a Methodist circuit preacher who arrived in our community each Sunday after already having preached twice in neighboring villages. 

I ponder the births of our three children, each of whom brought both joy, challenge and immense pride as all of them eventually chose to make Christ the Lord of their lives. 

I recall attending The Salvation Army College for Officer Training, from which we were commissioned, ordained and launched upon a thrilling 42-year career as Salvation Army officers.  

I think of the more than 20 years we were privileged to live in retirement, finding great joy in each other and in our respective continuing ministries as volunteers.

I reflect upon our joint decision for Carol to stop having chemotherapy treatments because the “cure” had become worse than the disease.

And I mourn the day when she took her last breath and passed from death to life, into the loving arms of Jesus.

But the end is not yet. At the final resurrection, because of our saving faith in Jesus, we will be reunited with fellow believers in the family of God.

In his classic book “Heaven,” Pastor Randy Alcorn says: “What we do here [on earth] touches strings that will reverberate for all eternity.” And speaking of his wife, he says, “I fully expect no one besides God will understand me better on the New Earth, and there’s nobody whose company I’ll seek and enjoy more” than hers.

Like Pastor Alcorn, I have the promise of a glorious reunion, in the presence of the Savior, when once again I shall be reunited with my absent valentine.