The Valentine's Day Balloon

This Valentine's Day my wife and I will celebrate eleven years of a rock-steady relationship. It was on that particular day eleven years ago that I asked her to "go steady" with me. Later that year (November) we were married. We will be celebrating eleven wonderful years of a faithful relationship, and we also celebrate the releasing of our eleventh balloon. Let me explain; eleven years ago we had been dating only a few weeks when Valentine's Day was approaching. I bought flowers and a beautiful card for her; she bought a rose and a huge helium-filled balloon for me.

We both drove to Kroger's and met in the parking lot. I'll never forget being totally mesmerized by her infectious smile as I watched her get out of her car. She walked over to me and handed me the rose and balloon, except I thought the balloon string was tied to the rose, and she thought that I had a hold of the string and the rose. We both stood and watched helplessly as the balloon flew slowly out of sight. Jewell began to cry; she thought that it was a disaster to lose the balloon like that. It was at that moment that I asked her to "go steady" with me and to be mine and only mine; fortunately for me she said yes.

Every Valentine's Day since, we have bought a balloon and made our way to a public area to release it into the sky. With this tradition we have been able to turn tragedy into something memorable: what was originally thought of as a blunder now is celebrated as a special moment.

We have been very dedicated to our balloon-releasing ceremonies. We have released balloons from different states, and at times have been so busy that we were forced to make a special effort in order to even continue the tradition. In 1999, balloon number seven was released in the middle of a hectic week of packing as we were moving from one city to another. Balloon number six was the very first to be released outside of the state of West Virginia, and on February 13th 1996, my wife's father passed away after only one week in the hospital; the next day we tearfully released balloon number four.

We have been through quite a bit in the short time we have spent together. After all this time I now realize that I love her more today than I did eleven years ago. I love my wife more than I love myself; as a matter of fact, I would gladly lay down my life for her if necessary. However, the interesting thing to note is she is not number one on my priority list, and thankfully nor am I on hers. God comes first in our lives, then and only then, our respective spouse.

C. S. Lewis was quoted once as saying, "When I have learnt to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now. In so far as I learn to love my earthly dearest at the expense of God and instead of God, I shall be moving towards the state in which I shall not love my earthly dearest at all. When first things are put first, second things are not suppressed but increased." Because God is prioritized at the number-one slot in my life, I am able to love my wife even more so than had I prioritized her first.

Helium balloons rise because of displacement. Helium is lighter than air, and because it displaces air, it causes it to rise. Also, air is lighter than water, and because it displaces water, it causes it to rise. In the same sense, the more we displace earthly things which keep us grounded or tied down, the closer we can get to God. In other words, the more sin we displace or keep out of our lives, the higher the spiritual levels we are able to attain in God. When we are able to do this, it is as if we are actually sending a Valentine balloon to God.

John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Remember, when it comes to God's love, you can rest assured knowing there are no strings attached.

[ by Mike Colllins -- from 'Sermon_Fodder' ]


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