Rocco took Gitano to a small bistro in the city. They sat on the patio and enjoyed the perfect autumn weather. Gitano told Rocco the story of his life – how his parents had been poor drunks, how he and his brother Ricci had run away together and found work stealing paintings for Gregory Hamilton, how Ricci had been murdered, and how he had spiraled downwards after that, desperately seeking to kill the pain in his heart and find even the smallest thing to bring him joy.
“Even after spending just a few hours with Aurora, I knew the darkness was ending. It was like the first sun rays of dawn were just beginning to reach over the dark horizon and the hope of day was certain,” Gitano smiled. “I think it was the first time I truly saw the sun in years.”
Rocco smiled back although he was concerned for the young man’s heart. “I’m glad that the Lord used Aurora to bring you back to life. He did indeed create us to live in community like that, where we need each other. Aurora might be your angel, but, Gitano, she’s not your god. She’s human, just like Ricci. And I hope to God that she never meets a tragic end-”
“I’ll die before that happens,” Gitano interrupted.
“But still, she won’t always be the light breaking over the horizon. That is God’s place and His place alone. He is the only unchangeable. He is the only sun that will never set. Aurora will.”
“Are you saying Aurora is going to die?” Gitano asked, feeling threatened.
“We all die, Gitano. We’re mortal. Even if Aurora lives to be one hundred years old, she will never be the sun. She’s only something beautiful that we are blessed to see because the sun is shining on her.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Aurora didn’t die for you, Jesus did. Aurora doesn’t live for you, Jesus does. He is your only God,” Rocco explained patiently. “Aurora is a good gift He has given you, but she is not the source of life, only God is. She is a broken human being, just like you and me. We have a tendency to worship created things instead of worshipping the Creator.”
“You’re saying that God is better than Aurora?” Gitano asked slowly.
“Yes,” Rocco answered simply. Gitano sat back and shook his head slightly.
“I don’t know. Aurora has never hurt me. God has.”
“How has God hurt you, fratello?”
“Killing my brother, for one thing.”
Rocco leaned in closer. “Gitano, I am so sorry about your brother. That is truly horrible. Let me assure you, though, that God does not kill. God gives us life abundantly. The devil is the one who kills, steals, and destroys.”
“Diavolo?” Gitano sat up straight. “You mean he’s real?”
“Oh, yes, he’s real.”
“I was always taught about him, but I thought they were just children’s stories.”
“That’s certainly what he would want you to think,” Rocco explained carefully. “The devil doesn’t want you to know that he exists. He wants to sneak around your life and create havoc invisibly so that you’ll blame other people and God for your misfortunes when really they are all his evil doings.”
“You’re saying that,” Gitano stopped jaggedly as his throat clogged with emotion, “That Ricci is dead because of the devil.”
Seeing the young man’s distress, which made him so much older than he was, Rocco grasped Gitano’s shoulder in support and simply nodded.
“And my parents? All the fighting and screaming? All the beatings? That was him, too?”
Rocco nodded, feeling his heart sag in angst for the pain on Gitano’s face.
“Why?” he demanded angrily. “Why does the devil hate me so much that he wants to destroy me?”
“The devil hates you so much because God loves you so much. I know that may not sound true but, oh, my brother, it is,” Rocco promised. “God loves you and has chosen you to be His son – His heir! And the devil is a jealous creature. He can’t stand it that God loves you. What is more, he is afraid of you, Gitano. He is afraid of the glorious future the Lord has planned for you so he has done everything in his power to try to derail you and keep you away from that glorious future. He does not want you to fulfill your destiny because he knows that where a child of God walks, there is life and there is love – two things the devil hates most.”
“If God loves me so much and has such a glorious future for me, why didn’t He protect me?”
“You’re still alive, aren’t you?”
“Sure, but at what cost? All my family is gone. My brother, my most precious kin, was murdered right in front of me. God should have done a better job,” Gitano grumbled bitterly.
“I don’t know why God allowed all of that to happen, Gitano, but I do promise you that God was in control of it and He has a good purpose for it. We’re not always going to understand why God operates the way He does but we must have faith that everything He does, He does because He loves us.”
Gitano wiped the gritty teardrops from his face and shook his head. “It’s been a long time since I’ve had anyone in my corner like that – doing things for my benefit.”
“God is definitely in your corner,” Rocco assured him.
“Crazy to think it,” Gitano snorted a laugh. “And what is it exactly He wants me to be doing in the ring?”
“Love the people God’s loaned to you. Not in a selfish way, though. You are already one hundred percent loved by God Almighty. Love them because God loves you. Not because you need them to love you back.”
“Who do I have around me?” Gitano asked, opening his arms wide. “Like I said, all my family is gone and I’m not the kind of person who has friends. The only person I have is Aurora.”
“There’s your answer then.”
“How? How on earth do I love her without being selfish?”Rocco shook his head and shrugged. “I don’t know. But the Coach in your corner will show you.”