I was asked by a reader how I came to faith. This is my story:
I was born into a loving, Jewish, atheist family.
(Some people think that “Jewish” and “Atheist” are contradictory, and frankly it should be. The whole Bible deals mostly with the Jewish people, “Israel.” Both the Tenach (Old Testament) and the B’rit Hadasha (New Testament) deal with God and His relationship with our people. Sadly enough, however, my people were prone to unbelief, turn away from God, and follow the local gods (don’t judge! Most people – Jewish and non-Jewish – would do/still do the same). But God continually pursued us, wanting to be in relationship with us. Also, He made a promise to our forefather Abraham. And God keeps His promises!
To get back to my story: Within my family there was a very strong Jewish cultural element – the history of our people, the Yiddish language (my father’s first language), certain foods, celebrating Passover with relatives and Hanukkah as a family.
One day my older sister heard something about God and asked my father about it at the dinner table. He explained that while some people believe in a God who created the universe, he and my mother believed in evolution. He explained what that was, and then said, “But when you grow up, you decide for yourself.” Then I spoke up with, “No, Daddy. When I grow up, I’m going to believe like you and Mommy.” To which my father responded kindly, but firmly, “No, when you grow up, you decide for yourself.”
Fast forward many years later, I was a teenager wondering about life. I considered my parents – hard working people who would toil away until retirement, and then have a few years to enjoy life or be too sick to do so, and then…? Eternal nothingness? This bothered me a lot. Could there be more?
At some point around that time I saw a movie about Jesus. It wasn’t an accurate movie – it glorified Judas – but since I knew nothing about Jesus, it was a conversation starter with my Catholic friends with whom I saw the movie.
They invited me to their church and I went (no, my parents weren’t happy about this.) While it filled some void in me, it didn’t satisfy in the long run. There were some things there that were lacking, and some things that I knew as a Jewish girl (even an atheist one!), just shouldn’t be, such as kneeling to a statue of Mary (which I didn’t do), or praying to anyone other than God.
After a while, a high-school acquaintance of mine gave me a New Testament, and I read the first four books. It made total sense to me. I decided that I believed in God and in the Messiah (Yeshua/Jesus). But nothing changed in my life. I told my best friend (a Christian) of my beliefs, and she gave me a whole Bible. I read it and prayed every day, but my life didn’t change. I was giving the Bible a degree of mental assent, but had not experienced the new life it speaks of.
One day, a year or two later, my friend wrote me a letter. She had been brought up in a Christian family and believed the Bible, but she had just totally dedicated her life to God and her joy jumped out from her letter and hit me in a tangible way. “I want that!” I thought. And that was when my life began to change. I went from a mental assent to embracing God with my whole being. As it says in the Bible: “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deut. 6:5).
This faith that I have is not simply agreeing with some doctrines or principles. It begins with the mind, with faith, since those who come to God believe that He exists, but as one comes to God, one enters into a relationship with Him – one speaks to Him, listens to Him, and the more one gets in touch with His Awesomeness, the more one wants to live for Him.
To continue my story, when my parents realized that this was more than a passing phase, they sent me to a rabbi.
I understood my faith as something very Jewish, after all Yeshua (Jesus) had fulfilled so many of the prophecies in the Tenach (Old Testament). I figured if any Jewish person read the B’rit Hadesha (New Testament), they would believe.
So when I met with the rabbi, I began by asking him if he had read the New Testament. To my surprise, he told me he taught it in university! We talked, but neither of us convinced the other of our beliefs.
It is sad that this most Jewish faith has taken on a very non-Jewish package over the years, and that historically so-called “Christians” have given the Messiah a bad name. So many things done “in the name of Christ” would have not been sanctioned by him.
But the Gentile packaging and gross misrepresentation do not negate the truth of the original. I believe that as a young person I was seeking the truth. And I found it – or more accurately, I found Him – He who said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6) – Yeshua, (Jesus) the Messiah.
My life hasn’t been the same since.
My life hasn’t been the same, but God has – for the 37 years I have known Him, He has been patient, faithful, trustworthy, forgiving, providing, wise, good, powerful. He has answered prayer, has given so me many good gifts, and demonstrated a love that surpasses understanding.
If you know Him, then I hope you can say the same thing. If you don’t…you can!