Giggling and chattering happily, the children munched on pink cookies served on heart plates. It was the Valentine’s Day party, and the three-year-old preschool class was excited. The culmination of the party was passing out cards the students had brought to share with their classmates. One by one the other teacher and I called the students to the back table where we’d laid red heart-shaped bags. We’d labeled the bags with each child’s name and decorated with glitter and stickers. Then we helped them to place their valentines in the appropriate bags.
When it was Caleb’s turn, he eagerly pulled out a valentine printed with a photo of two gray kittens. “This one’s for Ashley,” I told him. “You can put it here in Ashley’s bag.” Dropping it in, he grinned. “She’ll like that one. Ashley likes kitties.”
The puppy valentine was for Thomas. Then one with a cat and a dog together for Madison. But Caleb’s enthusiasm was already fading. “Which one is for me?” he asked with a worried look.
An Empty Heart
“These valentines are for your friends,” I tried to explain. “And they’re giving valentines to you, too! So at the end of the day, you’ll get to take home your bag with all your valentines from your friends.”
But Caleb wasn’t convinced. He seemed afraid that he would be forgotten. Maybe nobody would give him a valentine! He would have to go home with an empty heart-shaped bag.
I’m tempted to feel that way sometimes.”I give and give and give, Lord, and what do I get in return? Nothing! I’m just left with an empty heart. That’s my lot in life.”
A Full Heart
But when I give my heart to God and surrender the painful memories, angry thoughts, and bitter grudges, He doesn’t leave me empty. Instead, once my heart is cleaned out He can fill it with His PEACE, His JOY, and His overflowing LOVE.
“Give, and it will be given unto you,” promises Luke 6:38. “A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you give, it will be measured to you” (NIV).
At the end of the day, as the preschoolers were zipping up their coats and collecting lunchboxes, Caleb tentatively examined the heart-shaped bag with his name on it that we had put in his bookbag. “Are these mine?” he asked.
I smiled. “Yes, Caleb, those are valentines for you from all your friends.”
“And I can take them home and keep them?” he wanted to know.
“Yes, you can keep them.”
“Woo-hoo!” Caleb rushed out the door. His friends hadn’t forgotten him after all.