Thirty-eight years ago Preacher sat beside me on a wooden park bench on the campus of Baylor University and handed me a wrapped box for Valentine’s Day. It was our first Valentine’s Day together. I was so in love with this blonde haired, blue eyed preacher boy that my heart was beating out of my chest.
I opened the box and there it was….a brown leather NIV bible. At first, I will admit, I was disappointed. Preacher, I know you are a preacher but could you get a girl something a little more romantic than a brown leather Bible.
Then I opened it up to read the words he wrote on the inside cover.
Presented to: Donna Duniven
By: John Avant
“To the girl I love—the words of the only one who will ever love you more.”
Love always, John
My heart melted. I knew this preacher knew what real love was. He understood that love wasn’t just an ooey-gooey feeling. Love wasn’t about giving expensive gifts or romantic dates. Although, I will say over our 37 years together as husband and wife, he has romanced me plenty.
John Avant knew the only thing that would sustain us through the many ups and downs of life would be the love of the Heavenly Father and His word.
His Word has held us through the death of both of our earthly fathers, the death of a grandbaby, and many friends who have gone to be with Christ.
His Word has been our wisdom while raising three children.
His Word has sustained us through tough financial challenges.
His Word has reassured us through times of questioning.
His Word has reminded us of His passionate love for us when the world felt cold and lonely.
His Word has been our direction when we weren’t sure which way to go.
Preacher challenged me on February 14, 1979 to passionately love Jesus and to hide His Word in my heart.
As I look at that old, brown leather NIV Bible, which is now all marked up, I thank the Lord daily that Preacher’s first Valentine Day’s gift to me was not something that would wilt or fade with time, but it was the Word of God!
Thank you Preacher, for not only preaching His Word faithfully but living it daily in front of me and all those you shepherd. Happy Valentine’s Day, Pastor……..may you know I love you with my entire heart and He loves you more!
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and every one who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” I John 4:7-8