I was raised in a Conservative Jewish home. I attended Sunday school and Hebrew School, and at 13, I was a Bat Mitzvah and then continued my studies at Hebrew High School. The following year, I started to feel that there was something missing in my relationship with God, so I began attending an Orthodox synagogue for a few years. After that, not only didn’t I feel any closer to God; I started to doubt God’s very existence and went to synagogue mostly on the High Holy Days, more to please my parents than because I actually believed.
In my early 20’s I realized that I had never really doubted God’s existence, but that I was totally dissatisfied with my religion. I checked out a Mormon Temple once and actually considered converting, but had a problem believing in Jesus. In my late 20’s I married a man who was somewhat more religious than I was. He had a more traditional Jewish upbringing and so I started to go to synagogue on holidays again, but more to please him and our parents than for any other reason.
My father passed away in May of 1992, my husband in December of 1992, and my mother in October of 1993. I felt the Lord’s presence in my life, but didn’t really understand about having a relationship with Him. All I knew was that something was keeping me sane and able to continue to go on. I started searching for answers to the “meaning of life,” “what happens to you after you die,” and ideas along those lines. I began to believe in re-incarnation and reading Tarot cards. I also recognized that if I didn’t want to do something, all I had to do was agree to do it and then something would happen to prevent my having to do what I didn’t want to do. At the same time, I was praying to God to let Him know that I knew He existed and wanted to make sure I believed in Him the right way.
On the day before my 41st birthday, a friend called me and asked me to go roller-skating with a group of people she knew. She said they were going to church and dinner first and would I like to go. I agreed to meet them for dinner, but had no interest in going to church.
I was excited about skating again. I hadn’t had a pair of skates on in years. When I got the skates on, I stood up and went to get onto the rink and immediately fell down. The only thing that really got hurt was my pride. I ended up sitting and watching folks going around and around the rink. My new acquaintances kept asking me to join them on the rink, but I declined. I suddenly realized that was a picture of what my life had become — watching life from the sidelines, watching and waiting for something good to happen. Not only was this a lonely existence, it was a miserable one too. I left them at the rink and went outside and cried. I drove off and stopped to get gas. While filling up, I realized I had behaved badly and drove back to the rink to apologize.
One of my new acquaintances, Doug, asked me if I wanted to start reading the Bible. I had been thinking about it for quite some time, but never had gotten around to it. I told him I would study the Bible with him, but that he couldn’t use the Bible to try to “convert” me. I told him that he couldn’t use the New Testament at all and that he couldn’t bring Jesus into our conversations. I really thought I was safe. Here was a way for me to get more “Jewish” and not have to worry about trying to be converted to Christianity.
Doug suggested that I start by reading Genesis and he began asking me some questions that I couldn’t answer. I know now that the questions were directed toward my finding the truth about Jesus. Doug also had me read Isaiah chapters 52 and 53, in addition to some of Leviticus and various other passages. I felt very uncomfortable, because this was the Old Testament and I should have been able to answer his questions. This went on for a few weeks and I was having more and more questions but no answers.
My wedding anniversary was on November 2, and after Michael died, I sometimes went to Temple close to that date to be with God. Although I had never been to a Christian church, I decided to go on Saturday, October 30, 1999, figuring that God lived in a church as much as He did in a Temple. I listened to the worship part of the service and was impressed. I even commented later that it was a shame that Jews didn’t worship God with the joy and happiness I saw and heard there. That night, I also heard the truth about Jesus for the first time. I was pretty amazed. It was also astonishing that the Bible was being read and explained in a way I understood. There was no “preaching” going on – just a clear concise interpretation of the Bible. But being Jewish I knew I couldn’t just accept Jesus.
After services that night, a bunch of us went out to dinner. I had many questions and the Christians I was with were patient and took the time to answer them as best they could. After we left the restaurant (about 1:00 in the morning), Doug and I stayed out in the parking lot talking. I had many questions, like, “If all this is true, then that means I won’t see my husband or parents again, because they didn’t believe in Jesus?” and “Would I still be Jewish if I accepted Jesus as my Savior?” Finally Doug told me the one thing I needed to hear in order to believe in Jesus. He told me that God knew me and that He loved me. I had always told God that I wanted to hear that. Once I did, it was easy to realize that Jesus had to be who He said He was. I still had many questions, but it didn’t matter. I knew I had to acknowledge Jesus as my God and my Savior.
I didn’t feel comfortable accepting Him in the parking lot of a restaurant, so Doug and I got back in the car and pulled over to the side of the road. Doug told me that all I had to do now was acknowledge Jesus and that there was a simple prayer I should say to do that. I wasn’t able to say the prayer. It felt like something was desperately trying to stop me. I got to the point where I couldn’t breathe and told Doug to take me home because I couldn’t do this. He agreed and on the way home he said we had to pass the Church and did I want to try accepting Jesus again.
I told him I did and he pulled in the Church’s parking lot. It took quite some time for me to say the prayer. I felt like I couldn’t breathe and my stomach was going to explode. Every time I ran out of air, I would feel the wind coming through the open car windows giving me fresh air to breathe. It took some time, but I was finally able to acknowledge Jesus as my Savior. Doug told me later that he knew there was a battle going on for my soul and that the angels were dancing because I chose Jesus even though I had been a child of the enemy. (The following week, I destroyed my Tarot cards and my crystals. I’ve also lost the ability to control the future by agreeing to do that which I don’t want to do.)
Doug and I stayed up the rest of the night and went to the 8:15 am Sunday morning service. I heard the altar call this time and came forward and publicly repented of my sins and acknowledged Jesus as my Lord and Savior.
9 That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Romans 10:9-10 NKJV)