I can remember growing up, I learned a lot about religion and requirements that God had for me. I can remember my mother would diligently teach us how to pray and when to pray. She taught us that if we were in trouble it was always good to get on our knees and ask God for help. She never taught us about religion per se but mainly focused on the fact that in Christ we would find everything we needed. Of course as little children we were guided to only what deemed necessary for us to learn at that time and we were also guarded from the unnecessary things. Preteen and teenage years would soon follow and that meant our source of knowledge concerning people and God would soon expand itself to peers, books and even experiences. Books explained little, as teens we didn’t take experiences as life giving lessons and peers would soon influence us more than ever. Now we had made the transition from mom’s lessons to now what our friends had to say about who we are and what we do and where we go. Outwardly nothing had changed about us, this was all internal, this was the inevitable permeating its way from what we saw around us to what we thought and then to what we did. Church was very much in the picture, in fact I sang on the choir, served on the usher board, sang praise and worship, attended regular bible studies and made it to 5am prayer meetings all at age 14. Mom taught me what it meant to cling to God and as a child, I knew it was never based on what I did. I would learn sooner that we can never trust our grip on God, but we can have complete and absolute reliance in His grip on us. What religion would soon teach me was that God loves us all, but He loves the ones who are more obedient the most. Religion taught me that a good condemning feeling after doing something wrong was beneficial for the soul and if you didn’t feel condemn they would make sure that you would soon enough. Religion taught me, do good, get good…do bad, get bad. Now this teaching coupled with the lifestyle I was about to live would spell out one word DEATH. Not physical of course because obviously I’m still alive but death to what mom taught me and death to what I knew in my heart was the right revelation of who God really was. A ministry of death would soon become my guideline to what I should do and what I shouldn’t do, but wasn’t able to help me in being right and doing right. Confusion became my friend and depression became my element in which I dwelt. As my perception of God became blurred, my perception of the world around me became crystal clear, but really it was the other way around. Through my experiences of loneliness and disappointments God was making Himself real to me. Notwithstanding what I had thought about Him, He decided He would show Himself as a God who cared even when I didn’t, who was faithful even when I wasn’t and who continually loves me even when I refused to love Him back. My religion didn’t teach this and with every disobedient and rebellious act instead of running to Him, I looked for a rock to crawl under, a fig leaf to cover my nakedness. No way am I here to bring attention to myself, this is not about me because if it was, no way would it be beneficial to you. This is about a God Who so loved that He gave. This is about a God who never looks at your current status, but lovingly stares at the potential He has placed within you. Some of the best lessons I’ve learned in life have come through tough times. When times get tougher, I no longer wonder where God is, I begin to ask Him to stick by me because I can only imagine how much worst it would be if He wasn’t there. God wants to get you to the point where you start progressing towards Him. Understand that you’ve tried this and you’ve tried that and it may work for a while, but eventually even that which you find sure can fail you at times. The people who say they will never hurt you can eventually hurt you, those that promise they will never leave you, will eventually leave you. I’m saying this because I can still remember the times when I looked to find everything I needed outside of God, only to realize that the surest things were hidden in a God I’ve never seen. It took me a while but I finally realized it, that with everything I had done and everything I had been through, God stood by and masterfully orchestrated every second of it so that it would turn out for my good. I honestly believe sometimes He got right down in the thick of it all with me, just to make sure I would make it out ok. He’s such a loving God. One by one, I lost everything that made me comfortable. Then only one person remained after it all disappeared, someone that was there all along. That’s right, He’ll wait, and wait and wait until it’s just you and Him. I bet God has really ripped arms, because it seems like He keeps them outstretched waiting for you to come back into those arms. If you’re like me, this Could take years…but He’ll wait just for you.