A Love Story dougfloyd 2/2002 April 22, 2002 She spoke to me in Algebra II.

This was the first time I met her. In fact, it was the first time I ever set foot in an Algebra II class. After graduating from college, I didn’t have anything better to do, so I spent a few months working as a substitute teacher. My undergraduate degree was in English and Speech Communication. Therefore, it follows that all the classes I substituted were in Science and Math. Sitting at the front of an Algebra II class, I called out the teacher’s assignment. The students started their work and I read my book. A tall, delicate young lady approached the desk. “Hi! I think we go to the same church.” She was right. Her voice interrupted my safe world. I didn’t date much. At 23 years old, I had dated maybe a half a dozen girls in my life. I never was a Don Juan with women. I was more like a Don Knotts. I am a large, awkward person who seems too talk far to loud at times. She was a delicate, quiet girl. Enchanted by her hazel green eyes, it felt like the whole planet stopping spinning. For a brief moment, everything paused and I gazed into the eyes of the girl I would marry. I’d never noticed her before. From that moment on, I never missed her. After all, we went to church together. We both attended a large, emotional church. The pastor was a young, charismatic black man. In addition to attracting a following among other blacks, he attracted a large group of white people: white people who wanted to be black. We loved the music, the celebration, and the freedom to worship God. On Friday nights, people from all across the city poured into the old warehouse: blacks, whites, poor, rich, sinners and saints. And we came to party. Church meant singing, dancing, crying, laughing and lots of sweaty hugs. The air weighed heavy with perfume, body odor, hair gel and an expectancy of glory. On any given night, a wealthy businessman might be sitting beside a convicted drug dealer; or a grandmother might share her space with a homeless man. This throng of diverse people formed one happy, yet dysfunctional family. We all shared a common yearning for something more than routine—a touch of divine life. She sat toward the front. I sat a few rows behind her, hoping that in the midst of this worshipping mass, our eyes might connect. I longed to be near her, to talk with her; and sometimes worked up the nerve to say “Hi!” She was a princess. A soft glow radiated from her skin. I came to church, hungering for a touch from God and a glance from Kelly. Over of the course of the next year, several guys in the church felt God told them they would marry her. This puzzled me because I though He told me the same thing. Of course, I didn’t tell anyone. I watched quietly, longing from a distance,

waiting. And she was in my mind day and night. I never even ask her for a date. The next autumn, morning. After a prayer including everyone stopped a small group of us began praying together at 6:00 am each few weeks, I began carpooling several folks each morning to Kelly and her mom. After a couple of months of intense devotion, coming to prayer: everyone except for Kelly and myself.

Each morning I picked her up at 5:45 am, drove to church, prayed, and then dropped her off at school. I lived for the mornings. Gradually, our schedules changed, we stopped praying together, and the whole morning prayer experiment ceased. I didn’t see her as often, but her name still beat in my veins. That spring, one year after I first met her, I felt moved “by the Spirit” to tell her about my feelings. A week later, by a strange twist of events, I was driving her to church— alone. The flood gates opened and I began to tell her how much she meant to me. For the last year, I had held this secret longing, this deep yearning for love in my heart. Two hours later, church was over, and we were still talking. As it turns out, she felt the same way. As I think back to that time, I have some sense of the depth of longing that God has for us. The desire and longing I had for her does not even compare with the depth of longing He has for us. In the purest, highest way possible, He longs for us. His deep yearning penetrates our own hearts with a longing for love. We long to love and know love in return. This longing, this yearning is at the heart of the Easter celebration. For our longing comes from God’s heart. Augustine suggested that sin is the condition of longing for what we cannot have. We long to know love, yet our attempts are frustrated and end in failure. Outside of grace, we simply cannot find the deepest longing in our hearts. This longing is deeper and purer than human emotion: it is divine love. In Christ, this love finds completion. As the Holy Spirit opens the eyes of our heart, we realize that the resurrection of Christ makes way for us to enter into loving communion with the Creator. This love draws into the beauty and delight of Triune love, and from this love we can finally loves others as Christ has loved us. Ultimately, the resurrection is all about love. “For the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” (Galatians 5:6)