For where two or three gather in my name, I am with them.
Throughout the Bible, people are sent off in pairs. Adam is given Eve as a partner. Animals load Noah’s ark two by two. Two angels appear at the tomb of the Lord. After the resurrection, the disciples are sent out in pairs to spread the good news. There is something significant and powerful when united in spirit.
Adam had a mission, but the Lord decided to let him complete this mission with a companion. Man gave a rib for Woman and Eve was created. She was equal in importance to that of Man, a perfect complement to the features he already possessed. It was the birth of pairing, of powerful partnerships enabling individuals to become teams in their endeavors.
Adam and Eve didn’t plan to be brought together. That was God. Such was the case for Carter and Noelle. They didn’t plan to be brought together, but God had other things in mind.
Noelle was wearing running shorts, a T-shirt, and Chacos with her curly hair pulled back into two tight braids. It was an early Saturday morning, too early to be singing in her opinion. She wasn’t looking forward to the day full of rehearsals leading up to the evening’s performance. It was region day: a choir event where the best high school singers in the area come together for one of the most notable performances of the year.
Carter was wearing glasses, a black hoodie, and Chacos while laughing with his friends. He was excited for the day of new experiences and new people. Region would be the perfect highlight of his senior year of choir.
The day started in the auditorium. Before the rehearsals could start, the myriad of teenage musicians had to be placed in order. As opposed to the usual division by section, the director wanted to alternate every boy and girl. Noelle waited quietly in line while the singers wandered into place. As people filled in, she looked to her left and right, learning the new faces that stood beside her. To her left was a tall boy singing tenor. On her right was a goofy bass. In front of her stood her friend Jackie. And then, to Jackie’s right, was the boy. The one from Thursday.
Noelle walked around the church by herself during the water break. Thursday rehearsals were her favorite part of region since it meant a day spent out of class. While she was wandering, she saw her friend Spencer. He was a quiet guy, usually keeping to himself, but he was with a boy in a beanie. He was talking to Spencer about his sketchbook. Intrigued, Noelle walked up to the two. She looked at the beanie boy and noticed it read, “HE>i.” It was a Jesus beanie, one she hadn’t seen before.
“I like your beanie,” she quietly said right as the call for water break to end was announced. The boy hadn’t heard her. Slightly embarrassed by her failed attempt at kindness, Noelle rushed back into the rehearsal room and didn’t give the encounter a second thought.
But here he was, right in front of her, by something seemingly more powerful than chance. Up close, she could see the slight waves in his brown hair, the curliness of his beard and the sparkle of his electric blue eyes. His eyes crinkled in the corners when he smiled and his slightly crooked teeth made his joy that much more genuine. She was captivated and she didn’t even know his name.
Sheepishly, she said, “Hey. I was the girl who complimented your beanie Thursday, but you didn’t hear me. My name is Noelle.”
“Hey. I’m Carter,” he said followed by a warm grin.
She said her name and Carter froze. He was afraid to turn around. He was afraid to see who the voice belonged to. He had heard that voice compliment his beanie, but when he had turned and looked, the owner of the voice was gone. It had been driving him crazy knowing that someone understood his beanie yet somehow he had missed them.
When he turned, his heart jumped. She was gorgeous. Her freckles stood out under the spotlights while her hazel-green eyes flicked between him and the floor. He knew she didn’t know how beautiful she was, but he couldn’t help but stare.
Carter had cut off girls months ago. He turned them down, one after the other, determined not to open his heart to another world of hurt after the mess known as junior year. Of course, he was gracious and kind, but he had told God he was planning on finishing high school without a girl attached to his hip. Senior year would be easy, dedicated to friends and family and as little drama as possible. But little did he know, Noelle was about to change all of that.
After meeting, the day sped along. The music was beautiful, but it was the times in between the singing that the two seventeen year-olds enjoyed the most. They talked about everything, from sports to hobbies to faith to future. The night ended with the first of many blurry, iPhone pictures to come.
A week later, Carter and Noelle met again amidst flashy lights and kettle corn. Ann and Lynn, Noelle’s best friends, had convinced her to invite Carter on their Saturday night adventure. They were at an amusement park on the water for a night full of dizzying spins and jarring roller coasters.
Carter saw the message inviting him out Saturday night. He typed an answer only to delete it and type it again. He was torn and a little confused. He’d been able to turn down every single girl without batting an eye, but Noelle was different. She had taken over his head. She was chasing after God in a way he had only seen in himself and something about that had him mesmerized.
Looking in his wallet and shaking his head, Carter gave up. He had fifty dollars to his name and a feeling that things were about to change.
He hit send in response to the invitation to a night he would never forget.
Following the excitement of rides, the group went to Sonic for late night ice cream and drinks. Everyone but Ann, Noelle, and Carter left early. The November chill started to get to them as the clock approached eleven.
Trying to get away from the cold, the three went and sat in Ann’s car. They began to share each of their personal testimonies and ended with Ann’s. Hers was dark, a story filled with spiritual warfare. Led by an overwhelming presence of the Spirit, the three joined hands and prayed for each other, crying together.
Around midnight, the group parted ways, heading home in a daze. Noelle was blown away and Carter was speechless. Something changed that night. They were connected by the Spirit in a way that had never happened before.
God works in miraculous and sometimes humorous ways. Noelle had been planning to avoid another relationship until college and Carter had told God he would never be reached by another high school girl. However, they were running at the same speed towards God: fast and relentless. Their paths crossed in God’s perfect timing regardless of what they were expecting.
Carter and Noelle’s story is long and continuous. They’re a powerful pair brought together by God to do incredible works in His name. As individuals, His spirit flows through them, but together that spirit is multiplied.
To be continued.