If there really is a God...  I am sure He is not very happy with me.  And I KNOW that He would want nothing to do with me. 

Can you relate to those thoughts?  For most of my life I had very few thoughts about God.  I figured if He did exist - He sure didn't love me.  Because you see - I wasn't a very good guy.  In my childhood, I tormented my younger brother and sisters - and as I grew older, I experimented with drugs and alcohol.  If there was a way get ahead by lying or stealing - I would do it.  Why not?  I figured anyone else would do the same thing - so why get left behind?

"Look at what Caitlin's wearing," my classmate whispered to her friend as I walked past her locker. She had an ugly smile on her face. "She's TRYING to fit in." They both burst into giggles. I pretended that I hadn't heard them as I continued past, but my heart sank. And then a fierce, angry determination came over me...."I'll show them...." I muttered under my breath.

There were three things we never talked about in our family growing up: money, my dad's alcohol problem and God.

There wasn't a lot of extra money so I started my first job at age 11 weeding flower beds for the neighbors. I always had a job because I wanted money in my pocket. Alcohol abuse colored everything we did as a family. Was Dad sober enough for us to do what was planned? I never invited friends to our home, I was embarrassed by what they might see or hear. As a teenager I had to go to the club, put my dad in a car and drive him home.

My Mom was the daughter of an itinerate preacher. She saw to it that my brother and I attended church every Sunday, beginning at a very young age. However, as I grew older, I drifted away from the teachings of my youth only to make a lot of mistakes.

But God wasn't through with me yet.  It was many years later as I waited for my daughter at a bus stop that a little old woman with a kind face asked me, "If you died tonight, do you know where you would spend eternity?" 

Once again I was in darkness. My twin brother with whom I shared a room always fell asleep quickly. I enjoyed wrestling with him during the day, but I dreaded the wrestling match I faced each night. Out of the darkness imposing thoughts seized me like, "What would happen if I were to die tonight?" I didn't want to die, but it was the uncertainty of what followed death that really terrified me. In the morning after a particularly long night of struggling to fall asleep, I approached my mother in the kitchen.

At the age of three I decided that I wanted to be a Christian. But how does a three-year-old grasp the finer points of Christianity? Simple. I understood that it had something to do with being forgiven of sin. So I stacked some cardboard boxes, kicked them over, and then knelt down to ask for forgiveness of this horrible sin.

As I grew I realize now that I never really got too much beyond that perception of Christianity. I was in it to escape from the burden of being imperfect. In other words, I was a Christian because of what it did for me.

"If God doesn't really exist, then what's the point in living?"
I stared out at the Californian mountains pondering my existence; only 15 years old. I had grown up in a religious family knowing about spiritual things, but my life felt empty. I was conflicted; one side wanted everything that this life was offering me: sex, drugs, money, power and prestige while the other quietly hinted at other lesser-known realities in my life: purpose, peace, love, forgiveness and joy.

I knew all the best hiding places on our family farm. If my father found me, he would put me to work doing chores that often demanded more physical and mental endurance than I had as a young boy. It should have been a positive experience working side-by-side with my father. But it wasn't. I felt like an absolute failure when I didn't live up to the daily expectations I felt he had of me.

Hiding was my escape and my place to find rest and solace. Even today, I treasure time alone and away from the demands of work and parenthood. Time alone is when I think most about God.


Subscribe to Front page feed