Today is Valentine’s Day and I find myself reminded of a quote from Wild at Heart author John Eldredge. (No, this is not in any way an endorsement of that book or of Eldredge). Tim Challies posted this bizarre story from Eldredge’s book Beautiful Outlaw back in October 2011, but somehow it just seems more appropriately marveled at on February 14:
I was going to call this book ‘Jesus of a Thousand Hearts’, because of the way he continually breaks into my life. He “speaks” to me through hearts. I’ll find stones in the shape of hearts in rivers where I’m fishing. I’ve seen them almost step-by-step up a mountainside when on a grueling climb. Praying in the morning I’ll look out the window and passing by will be a heart-shaped cloud. Dinner rolls, seashells, stains on my jeans. I’ve won the lottery when it comes to hearts from Jesus. But I am ashamed to admit that last summer, I grew a little impatient with them. I was going through a trying time and seeking God for the answer to many questions. Often, he would simply give me a heart in reply. I’d be walking down the sidewalk, and there in the cement see a heart-shaped hole, made by a bubble when they poured the sidewalk.
I actually grew a little dismissive of them. I didn’t want hearts—I wanted answers.
So, Jesus stopped giving these treasures of our friendship.
Last fall, while walking through an alpine meadow bow hunting, I was asking him, ‘How come you don’t give me hearts anymore?’ I asked it in a pouting kind of way. At that moment something gray caught my eye. I looked down midstride, and there in the grass, about as big as a dinner plate, was a dried piece of cow manure—in the perfect shape of a heart.
If I didn’t know Jesus adores me, if I didn’t know he is playful, and if our relationship didn’t allow me to receive a playful tease, I might have misinterpreted the icon. But I loved it. It was both, ‘Oh, so now you want a heart?’ and, ‘I adore you still.’ A cow-pie heart. That is so Jesus. Wish I’d taken a photo of it—we could have put it on the cover of this book.
As Challies declared: Worst. Gift. Ever.
So this Valentine’s Day, watch your step, I guess.
Oh, and Happy Valentine’s Day to all my fellow five-pointers (and anyone else who just likes tulips).