♫ I know I had a wicked childhood, I know I had a miserable youth ♫
In the busy life of kids at school, summer time gives chance for reflection, introspection, and even reinvention. (Maybe at least during our time when mobile gadgets referred to items that only the armed forces or James Bond could get their hands on.)
And being the "home-buddy" that I was, summer breaks from school became just that.
Even as a child, we were taught at an early age about God. I've wondered about Paradise, and the question of whether there would be a sea there that I could explore or a sky where I could soar already played in my mind since I was a kid.
But I was really disobedient and disrespectful to my parents at times. I cannot recall how many times I've made my mother and grandmother shout my name in piercing pitch and volume.
Growing up, I guess I generally didn't know how to fit in so I often went straight back home after school. And yes, I was bullied from a young age. Thankfully though, I was given a few talents that eventually earned me the respect even of those who picked on me.
But still there will be bullies, and on top of that is a list of awkward, embarrassing moments and other sad and sorry circumstances that highly probably will cause error to this online platform should they push through.
Life was hard. But in one summer, I found that there was a way to make things easy. I just didn't know if it was even possible.
♫ But somewhere in my wicked, miserable past, there must have been a moment of truth ♫
As mentioned, we were taught to acknowledge God and His book from an early age. One summer I said I would read the Bible, and I began with Genesis.
I learned so many things from different people -- the stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Noah, Moses, David, Samson, and many other people of faith. Somehow, the stories I watched from cartoons like Flying House and Superbook were more interesting on paper. And they are.
But going back to the pages about Moses and the Israelites, I got interested in reading about how God forgave their sins by offering sheep and cows. I actually thought of buying one and slaying and offering it someday. But the big question was always the altar. Was there still some place I could do that, so I would be forgiven of my sins?
Who would've thought that the answers would come one summer many years later?
♫ Nothing comes from nothing, nothing ever could ♫
Then came that summer when my uncle and I would have a terrible fight and all because of one man I hardly knew -- Bro. Eliseo Soriano.
I argued with my uncle as if it were the last most precious thing to do should I have died after doing it. He didn't come back to our house for some time after that.
But as luck would have it, my mom convinced me that my uncle meant no harm and I agreed to watch Bro. Eli for the first time, sort of.
While she sat and watched Bro. Eli, I headed off to the sofa, lay down and closed my eyes, pretending to be sleepy. But as I lay there and began actually listening to him after a minute or two, with my eyes closed I said in me: "That was right."
After a tear fell, I soon fell asleep. And when I woke up, I felt I really did.
♫ Somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something good ♫
My uncle then resumed his visits to our house, and it became the start of him telling me about the things he learned from Bro. Eli and Bro. Daniel Razon. And about a place called "Apalit" in Pampanga.
The time came when I got to visit for the first time. It was Bro. Eli's spiritual birthday. I got to taste a drink called "soya" (made from soybeans) and people my age were saying "po" (Filipino sign of respect, usually towards elders) to me. When it came time for prayer, I sat but was in chills after hearing and seeing almost everybody cry.
Back then, to me it was surreal, but nice.
The most important discovery in my newfound land however, was why people stand on the stage to say what they're thankful for and sing.
My uncle said that it was their offering of thanksgiving to God, as the Israelites did during their time. Only, this was how Christians do it, he told me. Since the law was changed, there was already no need to offer sheep and bulls. Rather, prayers and praises to the God of Israel, the same God of Christ's followers.
Before leaving the Ang Dating Daan Convention Center that day, my uncle took me to a small museum, where Jeremiah 30:19-24 were printed on a cloth that decorated one of its walls. I remember reading it, and saying "This is it. This is this people here."
That was the same summer, twelve years ago, when I decided to undergo indoctrination and be a part of the voices that made merry and gave thanks to God weekly. And with His help and mercy, through Bro. Daniel and Bro. Eli, I learned how to do it right.
Happy International Thanksgiving to all members of the Church of God International! July 5-7, 2013.
Thanks be to God!
Photo credit: Commons.wikimedia.org
Originally published on Facebook on July 3, 2013.