For the last couple years, in lieu of a Good Friday service, my church has presented a "Good Friday experience" with a variety of displays, activities, and media to communicate the importance of the day and a chance to reflect and respond. For me, I love the self-paced reflection and being able to respond through creative avenues. One of the "galleries" this year will be personal stories of faith journeys, showing Jesus as a "Friend of Sinners". My pastor asked me last week to put together a paragraph for this gallery (along with some photos of me). Because this was going to be shared publicly anyway, to the thousands of people that will see it today, I though I'd share it here, too, for the hundred or so that will ever see this post.
JESUS: Friend of JoannaWhat are your reflecting on today?
Growing up in a wonderful Christian home, I understood enough about God to choose to follow him when I was just 5. Through my school years, I got involved with practically every youth group and Christian organization available to me. I could argue apologetics and recite the Four Spiritual Laws from memory. I was even voted Most Likely To Be a Missionary by my senior class! I had it all together, I had all the answers, and I took pride in this fact. "God" made sense and fit into my black-and-white box. I was "doing all the right things"- and I was busy!
A short time later, however, at my Christian college, I started thinking more deeply about my faith, questioning the seemingly black-and-white logic, and coming up with only gray. During this time, I couldn't pray, and my worship was interrupted with nagging questions. This shook my faith for months on end, until Jesus came alongside me and was my Friend, even in my doubts, uncertainties and questions.
My faith now is still strong, but different. My vision for God and his world is infinitely bigger than the God who I totally understood. I can now Rest In Him instead of always Doing For Him. My faith foundation is solid, but the expression of my faith is freer and unhindered, knowing have a Friend who I can confide in, even while living with some unknowns, without all the answers.
What's your "Friend of God" story? Feel free to share a paragraph about your journey in the comments, as we reflect on what Jesus did for us today, giving us the ability to become friends of God.