“God brought me from a mighty long way.” A lot of people say that, but I know it’s true. And even better, I know how I got here.

God has delivered me from a state of despair so many times I’ve lost count. I know that when I stumble on my path through life, God is there to pick me up.

To think I didn’t have to run afoul of the law to understand that. I can say that God got me out of New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina.

Even though I spent a month living in a three-bedroom house with 56 other people, I was thankful that I made it out. I am thankful that God has taken care of me, even though I have gone through periods where I didn’t know who or what I believed in.

As a result of God’s love, my faith has gotten stronger. I can say that I have been molded into a man who seeks to know God, not religion.

Developing my relationship with God will be what guides me on the path to heaven, not blindly following doctrine and dogma (an opinion; that which one believes or a doctrine or body of doctrines formally and authoritatively affirmed) without knowing the truth in it.

While joining in fellowship, which is a key to praising God, we as believers should know why we are doing what we do. One of the things that caused me to question my faith in the past was the fact that I didn’t know why I believed what I did. When I did question anything, those I asked these questions couldn’t tell me anything that could help me better understand.

The key for my development has been interacting with those who not only share my beliefs, but also those who nurtured my spiritual development. Whether it be a significant other, as in my case, or anyone else, being a willing student of God’s word is key to spiritual development.

I’m not perfect, and I know I have a long way to go before I get where I’m supposed to be spiritually. I can say though, without a shadow of a doubt, that God has brought me not a long way – but ALL THE WAY.

Justin LaGrande is a senior mass communication major from Reserve, Louisana.