To fall in love with God is the greatest romance,” said the ancient sage (Augustine of Hippo, 354-430), interrupting me from a game I was playing on my I-pad. “Pardon,” I said looking up. “God interested in romance, not just in hard slog?”
“Much more of a great adventure than hard slog,” he replied. Then looking down at the I-pad he asked: “What are you doing there?” At a loss to explain new technology to a fourth century man, I replied: “I’m playing a battle-style adventure. I gain a brief sense of achievement in winning, and some respite from real world pressures. There is some guilt, though, if I play too long.”
“There is a little achievement, some respite, but also guilt,” he responded. He paused until I looked up. “You know,” he continued, “from my experience, encountering God is not only the greatest romance, but the greatest of adventures. Falling in love with God, seeking God with all my heart, and being found by God, is what I would call the highest of all human achievements.”
The old man had my attention. “Not just make-believe or hard slog,” I said, putting aside my I-pad. “How does this greatest romance begin?”
“In this romance, it is God who is constantly seeking us out. We respond, not by getting into a hard slog, but by offering our consent, our ‘I will,’ to God’s life-giving actions and loving presence in our lives. Our flourishing and our actions come from the overflow of God’s love.”
Intrigued I asked: “How is this romance and adventure made possible for us?” A tear formed in the old man’s eye as he responded: “With incredible sacrifice.” “Is that about Jesus dying on a cross for us?” I asked, for at least I knew that story.
The old man nodded, pausing before he spoke. “Imagine a great romance in which you were offered a special wedding gift. Would you take it?” “I believe I would. Do you know about that special gift?”, I asked.
“Yes. Let me leave it with you,” he replied with gentleness. “It is the gift of Jesus’ own Spirit releasing his life into your life until your heart is filled to overflowing with the fullness of God.”
“That does make for great romance,” I said. When I looked up the old man had gone. Though saddened at his leaving, I remembered that, on my I-pad, I had the whole God story to which he had alerted me. I had the opportunity to explore first hand this greatest romance, this greatest adventure, and this greatest of all achievements. The menu was close at hand!