I often allude to a time of trial in my life that began about 5 years ago, profoundly overwhelming me about 3 years ago and as a result, I found ways to try and cope with what could have easily destroyed me. I am still baffled that I didn't run to God, but in truth, I couldn't comprehend what was happening so reality became an unsafe place for me. I hid. One of the faulty tools I used, as I've mentioned in the past, was alcohol. I am a very high-functioning alcoholic. I could be full on drunk and no one even knew. This is not a strength as you can imagine because what saves many alcoholics is that they eventually reach a bottom and then seek help. High-functioning alcoholics don't really reach a bottom until their liver gives out and then they are motivated.
I could feel God during this time. I didn't actively seek Him out, but I could feel His presence. He didn't reject me ("I will never leave you or forsake you." Heb 13:5), though I gave Him every reason to. He was so patient. After two years of daily drinking, I came to a place where I felt the strength to stand again. April 2012 marked my one year sobriety point. Unfortunately, I'm still smoking, but I believe God will free me of this vice too. Rome wasn't built in a day.
The internet was another place I learned to hide. I was fine while on-line, but take me off for too many hours in a row and I began to feel insecure. Real life was more than I could bear and had to find my safe place again. For about 2 years I slept approximately 3 hours a night. I did the things I had to do in order for my family to carry on, but it was sad and strange how people adjusted for my lack. I'm doing much better in that department now too. I spend less than half the time on-line than I used to, and it doesn't have the grip on me it used to have. I'm so grateful for my job and co-workers.
During this addictive time on-line I met a lot of interesting people. Many of whom were professing Atheists. I didn't really want to talk about God at that time... I was kind of avoiding Him, but they did. Oh how they wanted to talk about God. So I did my best to tell them what I knew, all while trying to be honest about the fact that I wasn't, at that moment, living a life that pleased God. But you know... even if you run away from home, your dad's still your dad. I knew He still loved me and I believed He would come to my rescue when I was ready to surrender, I just couldn't quit numbing up.
It's difficult though, trying to explain God to someone who hasn't experienced Him. Some of them knew the Bible, or at least had been in some sort of church setting as a child, but they really had yet to experience God for themselves. It's like telling them to look at one red thread in a giant tapestry and follow it throughout the extent of the piece. It would be impossible. It winds and weaves it's way throughout the entire work... you couldn't possibly describe the point where it loops and where it crosses the other threads... but without it, the whole thing would fall apart.
I shared with them my personal experiences with God. I told them about the miracles He had done in my life and in the lives of those around me... but until they know that they are truly loved by someone as real as you and me... the void in their hearts is unavoidable. My heart goes out to them, as do my prayers. I grew to care deeply for many of those once strangers, but my hope is that one day, they will be a part of my family.