I’ll Go With You

In June of 2009, Trish and I were preparing to move from Indianapolis to Nashville to work at a church again after almost four years out of ministry.

It was a big step of faith for us. RefineUs was just a blog and only a few months old. We had no aspirations of writing a book, traveling or speaking.

One of my best friends, Pete, offered me a second chance to be a pastor at Cross Point and we were excited about the opportunity to serve in the Church again.

A few days before our move, my mom came to our house to share some news with me that she’d been keeping from me my entire life. She and my dad had recently divorced after 36 years of marriage, and in that process, God had begun to do a new work in her. She couldn’t live with this secret any longer.

In a huge moment of honesty, she told me that my dad wasn’t my biological father, I had been adopted when I was a toddler. She then told me the name of my real father and explained the relationship she had with him before meeting the person I called, “Dad.”

It was a huge bombshell.

There’s a lot more to the story, obviously, but over the past four years I’ve done a lot of questioning, processing, praying and healing. I’ve tried to decide if I want to meet my biological father or not.

Then yesterday, everything changed.

My mom called to tell me that my biological father has been diagnosed with lung and brain cancer and has three to six months to live.

Closure is coming, whether I’m ready for it or not.

Over the years, Pete and I have talked about my adoption and my dilemma about meeting my real dad. Yesterday, I told him about my father’s diagnosis and asked him to keep me in his prayers.

A few hours later, I sent Pete a text and simply said, “If you were me, would you go and meet him before he dies?”

Within minutes of sending the text, he called me. We talked about hypotheticals and different scenarios and how the whole thing could play out.

I was pretty emotional and told him that I am pretty sure I should go and meet my father before he passes away, I just don’t want to.

Then Pete said four words that made all the difference.

“I’ll go with you.”

We’ve been friends since 2001. We’ve planted churches together; pushed babies in strollers together at the mall; laughed together; cried together; confessed sin to one another; confided in each other.

But nothing defines friendship more than presence.

The promise of presence is the essence of friendship.

I’ll be there for you. I’ll go with you. I’ll stand next to you when you meet your dad for the first time. That was the promise.

I said, “Are you crazy? You have a church to run. You don’t have time to do that.” He simply said, “You say the word, and I’ll make it happen.”

If you’re looking for a magic formula to have a great friendship, there are tons of books to read on the subject. There are steps to take and things to say and ways to act that will help you develop deep, meaningful relationships. But nothing is quite as powerful as:

I’ll go with you.

Maybe someone in your life needs to hear that today. I’ll go with you through the fire. I’ll walk with you through the storm. Where you go, I’ll go.

We can all choose to be that for someone.

Thank you, Pete, for being that friend for me.

24 Responses to I’ll Go With You

  1. Dorinda

    I had no intention of leaving a comment when I stumbled onto your blog. My husband and I are reading your and Trish’s book after coming to a similar place of feeling nothing in our marriage. My husband does not know Jesus and I can only pray that God will use your story and ours to reveal himself to him. My posting for that though. I didn’t meet my biological father until I was 21. My calling him was solely because God told me to forgive him. As you’d expect, the forgiveness God allowed me to give to him and the family he built after he left was a far greater blessing in my life than I could have dreamed. In the last week of March 2012, I had the privilege of praying with my newly saved father. For all eternity I will hold that request from him and the experience in my heart and celebrate the God that made it possible because of forgiveness. On April 1, 2012 he went to be with Jesus. I recently read about when Abraham died and it was Isaac AND Ishmael who were with him and buried him. The night my father passed, it was the sister I’d spent most of my life hating because she had been the “Isaac” and myself that were with him. Being able to share Jesus with the family I didn’t know I had has been life-changing for me and has allowed me to see a greater depth of God’s providential love for me. I am praying for you as you walk this very difficult journey.

  2. Julie

    This story moved me. My husband and I have a very similar story to yours in regards to your marriage. It has been three years ago for us since we stepped down from ministry. I wish my husband had a friend like Pete in his life. Most people tend to scatter during the hard times. I am thankful God sent you Pete. Thank you for sharing this story.

    • Justin and Trisha

      Praying for you guys, Julie. It is tough for sure. I knew in a matter of a few days who my true friends were. I will be praying for that type of friend for your husband. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Aurora

    Justin, I feel with such knowledge the story you’re living right now. My story is your story…when I was 7, I found out the man I believed was my father wasn’t my father after all…he was my dad, but not my father. My father had abandoned my mother and me when I was three days old. I found out from my mom just as you have. My world changed that day…my truth changed that day. It would be another 7 years before I would meet my biological father for the first and only time in my life. My life took a lot of turns after that and there was lots of hurt and confusion that the Lord had to untangle and heal. I’ve become thankful for the trial that has allowed me to know that the Lord heals and restores broken hearts and writes new stories, new truth for His children. I’m praying for you…with tears and knowledge I’m praying for you, for all you must be feeling and the decision you are praying over. So grateful the Lord has given you a friend like Pete, a friend that sticks closer than a brother and will go with you. Blessings to you, Justin.

  4. Lori Graham

    Justin – We first met you and Tricia when you came to Clarksville about three years ago to do a marriage conference. Then when we attended Grace Community, you and Tricia came to share your story. My husband and I are now at CrossPoint, and know we have been called there by God for many reasons. Over time, fb, instagram, twitter….one thing I have noticed is the closeness of the CP staff, wives, and pastors. It’s something very rare, and actually I stand in awe of it. I will be praying for your meeting with your biological father, and hope that there will be an abundance of blessings that come from that important day. BTW, your sermon Sunday rocked.

    • Justin and Trisha

      Thanks so much. Your encouragement and support of our ministry means so much.

  5. diane1230

    Wow. This gave me chills & brought tears to my eyes. I’m thankful for friends like Pete in my life & I hope I’m a friend like him as well. You’re right — in all relationships in life, there are no words greater than “I’ll go with you”.

    Also, Justin, I have no idea what you’re feeling with meeting or not your biological father. Praying for you as you make this decision in the coming days.

    • Justin and Trisha

      Thanks so much Diane. Really appreciate the prayers.

  6. What a blessing to have such a strong friendship! I can’t say that I have that kind of friendship, but I’m certain it’s a treasure.

    I love this blog and your ministry. I bought the book and my wife and I are going to be going through it. I’ve been a self-employed web developer for a year. It has been tough, but it has also brought my wife and me closer together.

    Please keep honestly sharing your heart. It’s changing lives.

    • Justin and Trisha

      Thanks so much Rick. Hope you guys enjoy the book. We’ll be praying for you as you read it.

  7. …Well, this pretty much made me cry. Thanks for that. 😉

    No, but seriously…this is just so beautiful. I so want to be a friend like that…first and foremost to my husband. In fact, I am going to send him a text right now saying some of those very things.

    When are you going to see your biological father? I will pray it is a healing meeting for both of you.

    • Justin and Trisha

      Thanks Angie. Still working out details on the visit. Thanks for your prayers.

  8. Seven years ago when I was in ministry I had an affair with my best friends wife. We both left our spouses for each other and married. Since we had kids in our first marriages I still had contact with my best friend…but obviously our relationship was changed….we were co-parents with a very “surface” level friendship, but we made it work the best we could.

    Three years into my second marriage my ex wife confessed to having an affair with a guy she worked with. I actually wrote to you (Justin) during that time and your response was a huge blessing for me. I fought like hell for my marriage but in the end she chose the other guy.

    A few months before my divorce was finalized in my second marriage, my best friend, who’s first marriage I had helped destroy, called wanting to meet up after work. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I thought if he wanted to tell me, “this is what you deserve” or “how does it feel?” then I was just going to accept that. Because honestly, in my opinion he had every right to say those thing to me….but that’s not what happened.

    Instead, he talked and cried with me as I shared my heart concerning the failure of my second marriage….and as I told him how sorry I was for the hurt I caused him years prior in our first marriages, he put his arm around my shoulder and comforted me. He told me that he forgave me a long time ago, and he needed me to know that I was not alone. He loved me and was there for me if I needed anything.

    In that moment he was showing me the definition of grace. He’s my brother in Christ and I’m so very thankful for him.

    • Justin and Trisha

      Jeremy, your comment brought me to tears for several different reasons. Thank you so very much for sharing with us. I am praying for you and thankful that while your marriage wasn’t able to be saved, God redeemed that part of your heart and story. Grace is truly amazing.

  9. Alison

    I have a friend like that…and I am so grateful. Going on 15 years…been through everything with her.

    • Justin and Trisha

      There is nothing like it, for sure.

  10. When I saw your tweet this morning “These four words define any friendship” my first thought was …I’m here for you. I was a close!
    Yes, we all need a friend like this in our lives AND to be a friend
    like this to someone. I’m blessed with a two very good friends who have gone with me through some really tough seasons. They mean so much to me.

    • Justin and Trisha

      That just means you’ve been reading our blog too long 🙂 Thanks Eileen. It was a reminder to me to cherish friendships more.