Several years ago, I found myself pricing Valentine roses at a beachside flower shop.
When the clerk asked me which day I needed the flowers, I answered cautiously as if this were a trick question.
“The day of the week that Valentine’s Day falls on.”
That’s when he offered an economics lesson. Apparently Valentine’s Day roses are cheaper if you don’t buy them on the actual day.
The florist had a sign advertising $10 roses, but roses delivered on Valentine’s Day jump to a steep $70.
“Hmmm,” I mused as I walked backward toward the door like a sheriff cornered by some bad guys.
Man! I thought. How much is love supposed to cost?
Scripture defines love’s highest price: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)
That price makes $70 roses seem like a bargain.
However, I’ve met people who’ve shown that kind of love, either deliberately or accidentally. Several years ago, I sought to comfort the family of a 17-year-old boy who had been pronounced dead after our emergency room staffers had done everything they could to save him.
Employed at Houston’s Splashtown water park, he and his co-workers were playing after-hours volleyball when one of the employees decided to see how far he could shimmy up a light pole.
As the light pole began to sway, the climber jumped clear. But when our patient saw the pole continuing to descend toward the gamers, he shoved his friend out of danger. It was at that moment, the young man caught the pole in outstretched hands. Tragically, the pole had lost its electrical ground and our patient fielded 220 volts. From that moment on, neither his grieving lifeguard friends nor the valiant paramedics were ever able to encourage another breath from this hero.
As the doctors explained the events of the boy’s heroic sacrifice to his grieving parents, I struggled for the words that would begin some kind of closure. I noted how remarkable it was that their son had given his life for his friend and I naively quoted John 15:13.
The mother thanked me kindly for the “sentiments,” adding sardonically she was sure her son’s heroics would be a comfort someday, but right now she would beg my forgiveness for wishing it was some other boy in that morgue instead of her son.
For love to be complete, the sacrifice has to be accepted. The friend whose life had been saved undoubtedly accepted the sacrifice, but the mother of the boy who made it could not. Knowing she had reared a brave son who would “lay down his life for his friends” didn’t ease her pain. Not yet anyway.
Meanwhile, back in the shop of roses, I was contemplating the same principle. No matter the sacrificial cost of roses, my love can only be fulfilled if my wife accepted equal part in that sacrifice.
After leaving the florist shop, I called my wife. “You know I love you more than $70, right?”
“Yeah,” she said, her answer unsuccessfully masking her suspicion. “I suppose so.”
“The roses are $70!” “What roses?”
“Valentine’s Day roses!”
“That’s crazy,” she said, releasing an exhausted breath. “Forget about it!”
“But you know I love you more than that, right?”
“Yes,” she cooed. “I know you love me more than that.” Then she paused. “You can buy me roses for my birthday next month — they’ll be cheaper then.”
And with that comment, we reached an agreement on this year’s market price of love.