With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, we are being bombarded with commercials, articles, and discussions in the media about love – how to find it, how to win it, how to keep it. A full range of sources offers a wide variety of opinions on how to find the key to someone’s heart.

But the finest, strongest key cannot open a door that has no lock.

When we consider love and the part it plays in our lives – whether we are seeking it anew or seeking to renew it – we need to begin with the love that defines us. We must push past the bouquets and teddy bears and chocolates, and focus on the source of all love: our Heavenly Father.

It is His love that created us. That sustains us. That redeems us. His love in our lives makes all other love possible. His love magnifies every other relationship, making it stronger, richer, and more resilient. From His love comes our capacity to rejoice, to serve, and to forgive; without those qualities, any love is fraught and fragile, and will not last.

To love and to be loved in the truest sense, we must love Him first. But His love can only enter our hearts if we are willing, if we expose the lock. We must drop our defenses and excuses, and be willing to embrace the hard work of coming to know Him and ourselves on a deeper, truer level. We must open our hearts, minds, and souls to the awesome wonder of living fully in His love.

But once the Lord has unlocked our hearts, we can open them to others completely, loving them as He has commanded, with the same grace, compassion, and mercy He offers us. And that joy outlasts flowers or chocolates or even diamonds, for then we are truly His forever.

“I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:16-19