My friend Giovanni has been on a journey of faith here in the city. I asked him to share how our friendship has impacted his understanding of faith in Christ. My hope is that you are encouraged to consider the friendships you have and how they have shaped your life. As I read what he wrote it brought back so many great memories and honestly I could share even more how he has impacted my life. Giovanni has taught me much over these last few years. I'm grateful for our friendship.
How one friend helped another to know Christ.
I have grown to understand the love of Christ more clearly thanks to the faithful heart of a friend. The friendship started by sharing the challenges and rewards that come from being a friend, employee, father, and husband while living in New York City. Through our common ground, we provided each other what is most valued and needed in friendship – empathy. As we discussed regularly our aspirations to lead, love and learn from those around us, my friend shared his faith and desire to follow Christ, stay true to His Word and find Him through every aspect of life. Eventually, a greater vision for what Christ can do through me was revealed in the form of numerous unimaginable doors my friend opened for me. These doors redefine my faith and made me fall in love with Christ.
Before meeting my friend my “faith”, as I understood it, was instilled, but not felt. I did not understand what it meant to have a relationship with God. My relationship with God was idealistic, ritualistic, void of sincere belief. I was living out my own misguided, individualistic interpretation of what I thought was faith. What I didn’t understand before my friend opened my eyes was grace. Looking back on my past expression of faith, my obedience to the Lord was always present, but I didn’t know how to receive what the Lord was providing. My friend helped me to understand grace; the unmerited love of the Lord available to everyone. Grace was the first of many enlightening and encouraging truths my friend revealed for me.
My friend also opened the door of the cross. A cross that should remain empty as a reminder of what Christ accomplished and finished. The cross that is God’s unyielding mercy and love. The cross that Christ overcame. The cross that is the power God has over evil and sin. The cross that Christ, our first advocate, accepted on our behalf. If I really want someone to intercede for me, who better than Christ? Christ already took on all of my sin. Christ’s death on the cross is the ultimate intercession. My friend showed me the cross as a living sacrifice and by doing so showed me the heart of Christ with my name written on it.
"My friend created a positive disruption from my normal way of coping and satiated my desire to live faithfully by pointing me to the sovereignty of God."
My friend opened the door to God’s sovereignty. Embracing the will of the Lord has given me enormous confidence. Much of the anxiety and fear I once felt ceased to exist as I began to understand that the Lord is sovereign. Not calling me to apathy and inaction, rather calling me to be bold in my obedience. Through prayer for an understanding of His sovereignty, the Lord provides me discernment between what is within my control and what is beyond it. God shows me what is just and what isn’t. My friend doesn’t always tell me what I want to hear, rather provides wisdom for what I need to hear instead. He does this by helping me to see different aspects of myself and how to properly view my circumstances. My friend created a positive disruption from my normal way of coping and satiated my desire to live faithfully by pointing me to the sovereignty of God.
My friend opened the door to the meaning of prayer and mission. Initially, my prayer life was focused on my hope to see my family come to faith, but the more I pray, I recognize that it is I who needs to have faith. The real need for change is in me. I am called to continue to follow Christ and lead my family through His example. My prayers are not to put timelines and result driven expectations on my God. I still pray for His enduring grace and love upon my family. My friend reminded me that I am called to surrender with confidence to Christ and share Christ continuously.
My friend opened the door of Scripture. My friend has been a conduit of God’s Word and has shared Scripture with me (lots of scripture!). He has helped me to understand the original context of the Scripture, how to apply it to my daily life and reevaluate my circumstances through the Word. Now, the Word is an essential part of my life. I pray through the Word and I enjoy sharing the Word.
I pray to remain aware of the doors that are continuously opening for me and I count them as blessings. Like the door that welcomed me into Christ’s church. Christ’s house is of endless doors and I hope to cross each threshold with continued thirst, reverence and awe. I have felt the love of Christ through the sound of corporate worship in my local church, the experience of God’s grace, and the gift of my family and friends.
Lord, I praise you. The generous love You have granted me is beyond measure. I continue to feel your powerful mercy, love and grace through the support of Your faithful children who guide me and desire that my family and I might know who You are. You have blessed me with a wife who I grow to love more each day and children who might desire to know You as well. You have proven that you love all of Your children and You saturate us with Your love through Christ and the love we share with one another. I pray that I may somehow demonstrate my gratitude for my friend by continuing to share Your good name and providing the same love I have received.
In Jesus name I pray. Amen.
For my friend - Logan.
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. - Ezekiel 36:26