It was the middle of the night. My dog Boffin had fallen off the bed! It took me a few moments to wake up and figure out what had happened. He had fallen in the small space between the bed and the wall. I turned on the light and will never forget the look of bewilderment on his face. I don’t know how he did it, but he landed sitting up.
He just sat there in the dark. Trapped. There was no room for him to move a muscle. He sat there waiting to be rescued, trusting that he would be.
I’ve often felt that way. Trapped, cornered, stuck without a way out. Caged. To be honest, my confinement was self inflicted. Over the years I had carefully constructed my cage. I was caged by irrational emotions, feelings of insecurity, distorted ideas about life and love and most of all a stubborn will. I believed that love was controlling and manipulative- love always had a price tag. Acceptance was based on successful performance. If I did enough, cared enough, gave enough, was good enough I’d be rewarded with love, attention, acceptance.
I hated gym class when they chose sides. “Please God I’d pray, “don’t let me be last today”. Those fears of not being chosen still haunt me even today.
To overcome feelings of loneliness, and fear I developed a brash and rebellious attitude. I was always the one who dressed a little flashier, talked louder, and flirted more boldly. Anything for attention. Attention meant acceptance, and acceptance meant love.
Not surprisingly I’d find myself in situations I couldn’t understand. I had arguments that were ridiculous. I was in relationships that I really didn’t want. I never knew how I got there, but whatever the circumstance, no matter how harmful, destructive and abusive, I was determined to prove that I was right and in control at any cost.
The cage kept closing in on me: poor choices and failed relationships. Slowly I built and hid behind walls.
There were walls of self defense: rejecting before I was rejected; not letting anyone close. And walls of self denial: I didn’t hurt; I didn’t need.
I didn’t want to hide. I didn’t want to “put a smile on my face and pretend.” I desperately wanted to be “me”. But by the time I was in college, I was so trapped I couldn’t get out. I had stuffed my emotions so deep, I was numb. I no longer had any idea of who I was or what I wanted.
What was worse, I had become the very things I hated: possessive, jealous, controlling, manipulating, demanding, bitter, resentful
and always right!
DRAWING ME TO HIMSELF
I hit bottom in 1986. I was hospitalized for severe depression aggravated by prescription medications. For three months I walked around the hospital looking up at the San Bernardino Mountains. I challenged the God of Israel, “so where are You?” Psalm 121 was my cry for help, “I will lift up my eyes unto the hills. From whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth.
I believed in God. I was Jewish and although we weren’t very religious, my Jewishness gave me a sense of identity and a closeness with God. I had never doubted His existence or that He created the world. When my grandmother showed me the stars, she told me that God had given every one of them a name. There was the Big Dipper, the queen, Cassiopeia, and the hunter, Orion.
I loved Orion the most. He was big and strong. he represented God’s love and protection. Whenever he appeared I felt safe.
No wonder the Bible says….The heavens declare the glory of God and the earth shows His handiwork.
God had always been there for me. There were times as a child that I felt His presence and love. But that was a long time a go. So much had happened since then: many broken relationships and ultimately a failed marriage, a lack of direction as I moved from job to job, coast to coast. I had even started my own knitting business and called it “Crazy Lady”. Nothing succeeded. Nothing satisfied.
The Psalmist writes, “I waited patiently for the Lord, He inclined His ear to me and heard me. He lifted me up out of the horrible it, out of the miry clay”. I was stuck, trapped in a dark, horrible pit. And I wanted out! So where was God? Day after day I lifted my eyes unto the hills but could not find Him.
But He was there. He worked through the doctors and the nurses who were so patient and so gentle. Slowly the walls of denial and self-defense began to crack and I began to feel the pain, which I had stuffed for 39 years. Pain of rejection. Frustrations of failure. Hurt of humiliation
RECEIVING MY MESSIAH
A year later I met a man who began to talk to me about the Lord “my” God. He told me about how God changed lives. He seemed to know Him better than I did. He told me that God had a plan for my life. That He could open prison doors and set captives free. That He changed lives.
He said that God not only wanted to pull me up from the horrible pit, but He wanted to set my feet on a big rock. God wanted to establish my steps and give my life purpose, direction and fulfillment. God wanted to heal my pain and give me a new heart, a heart which would love instead of hate.
I read a story about two mothers, one from England and one from Northern Ireland. Each had lost a son to “the other side”, yet instead of hating, they loved one another. What a difference from my life. These mothers were not captive to their pain. God had changed them.
Then for the first time I heard the words of the Jewish prophet, Isaiah.
“He is despised and rejected by men. A man of sorrows and familiar with suffering.
Surely He took up our infirmities (sicknesses) and carried our sorrows (griefs), yet we considered Him stricken by God, smitten by Him and afflicted.
He was pierced for our transgressions He was crushed for our iniquities. The punishment that brought us peace was upon Him”
I was horrified. Without doubt this was a description of Jesus Christ in the “Old Testament, my Bible. The rabbis had never told me that the Hebrew prophets had spoken about Jesus.
I had a real identity crises. I was Jewish and Jews don’t believe in Jesus.
Had I not told that simple fact to many of my friends who had tried to talk to me about Jesus? The very mention of the group called Jews For Jesus made me so angry I became nauseous. It had been so simple, “you cannot be Jewish and believe in Jesus”. After all, it was in the name of Jesus that the Crusaders had slaughtered the Jews in Israel. And it was in the name of Christianity that Hitler massacred 6 million Jews in Europe. For me, the name of Christ had always been a curse.
Pierced for my transgressions. But now I was being confronted with a Jesus who suffered for me, a Jew, not a Jesus who brought suffering to Jews. Despised, abused, rejected, familiar with sufferings. I knew what that felt like. And so dd this Jesus. He came to His own and His own knew Him not. We hid our faces from Him and we did not esteem Him.
Now we Jews know about guilt trips. Jewish mothers discipline through guilt,”how can you treat me this way, after all I’ve done for you? Do you stay up late at night thinking of ways you can hurt me? Go ahead, break my heart, after all what are mothers for?” I’d heard it all.
But this was something new. He opened not His mouth. No accusations or defense. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. Such pain. Such agony. I was overwhelmed with guilt. After what Jesus did for me, I had do to something for Him.
Besides, I desperately wanted my life to be changed. So since being born hadn’t been that great, I decided I needed to get “born again” and baptized. I figured that was what Christians did instead of having a bar-mitzvah like we Jews did. So with earnest I began planning my “born-again”/bar mitzvah party.
Then my friend explained that to be born again was not having a party,but saying a prayer. it was not a having a ritual, but having a relationship with God.
A relationship with God? I had that. I was Jewish. We were God’s chosen people, the”apple of His eye”, blessed. Didn’t the rabbi always recite the blessing from Torah: “May the Lord’s face shine upon you and give you peace”. But I had to be honest with myself, I had no peace.
Isaiah had also written: God’s hand was not too short to save, nor His ear to dull to hear, but my sins had made a separation between me and my God.
Separated from God. Separated from His love. From His peace. Although He loved me, we had no relationship. I was devastated.
Now I knew that it was God’s love that I longed for. It I was only God’s love which could affirm and satisfy me. I had the wrong love objects! The intimacy and satisfaction I so desperately wanted and looked for could only come from God.
But God could not shine His face upon me, because of my sins.
And I knew that I had sinned, of that there was no doubt. I had to admit that I had not lived a life pleasing to the God I said I loved. I had broken every one of the 10 commandments. I had gotten angry, felt jealous and caused friction and division. All sins according to the Bible.
I needed a way to get rid of my sins. That way was Jesus. God had promised that “although my sins were like scarlet, they would be washed whiter than snow”. He had promised to forgive all my sins. ” But I never knew how.
When I looked at the brutality of the cross and heard the words of the prophet I began to understand.
He was pierced for my transgressions. He was crushed for my iniquities. The Ld has laid on Him the iniquitous of us all. My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities.
God put on Jesus the punishment I deserved. Jesus was my scape goat. Jesus was the fulfillment of the holidays of Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) and Passover.
No wonder the Bible says that God loves us with an everlasting love. He loved me so much that even though I rejected, refused and cursed Him, He sent Jesus to die for my sins.
For God demonstrates His own love toward us,in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us…and we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ
Jesus was my longed for Messiah. I had been so sure that the Messiah would bring political peace, that I hadn’t understood that first He would bring me personal peace.
I had not been interested in knowing the facts, I had already made up my mind. But just like I did with Boffin when he was stuck, God reached down to bring me up out of the dark,miry pit of my sins.
Instead of putting my sins onto a goat, I needed to transfer all my sins onto Jesus. My friend had said “not through a party, but by a prayer”. So by faith, I asked God to forgive my sins. Then in prayer I thanked Jesus for loving me so much that He took the punishment I deserved. As sincerely and simply as I could I asked God to change my life.
A CHANGED LIFE
And He did! It was as if God rolled up His sleeves and started to work. I was afraid God had gotten a lemon, but instead He got a fixer-upper! At first it was others who saw the change. Although I didn’t feel any different my friends said I glowed.
About three months later I went to a “communications” class at work. We had to discuss how we acted the last time we got angry or had an argument. And I couldn’t remember….three months and no arguments? No anger? Sure I had had some disappointments, big ones. But I didn’t have to stuff the pain. Instead I could share the pain with Jesus who knew how I felt. was no longer in prison to my emotions.
Jesus said that He came to set the captives free. And He did. He was really changing my life, from the inside out. No wonder Paul said, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
The big test came when I went to visit my family. Despite all the other changes, somehow my mother could always put me back in prison! But Jesus said, “the truth shall set you free. When you are freed by the Son you are freed indeed”.
The truth was that I was no longer a captive, but I was changed. The truth was that I was free. The truth was that my family were in their own prisons. The truth was that I needed to forgive those who had hurt me.
When Jesus was on the cross He said, “forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing”. Now I could say, “I forgive them, they couldn’t help what they were doing.Ã‚ Jesus’s love and forgiveness seemed to flow through me. For the first time in 48 years I can honestly say that I love my mother. Although I must admit I’m still a bit surprised after each telephone conversation when we haven’t argued!
There have been many changes in my life and the Bible says that there will be many more. It says, “We all with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” 2 Cor 3:18
There are times when the old doubts and fears come and I find myself back in the cage and defeated. It is then I remember the words of Jesus:
Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest
In the world you will have trouble, but don’t be discouraged have overcome the world
I will never leave you or forsake you
FILLING THE EARTH
After graduation from Seminary in 1990 I began to travel around the Pacific Northwest telling people about God’s love through Christ Jesus. The ministry, known as Novea, facilitated city-wide evangelistic outreaches through Passover observances. For two years the radio program ”In Messiah’s Name” reached into homes in Portland, Philadelphia and Ocean City, New Jersey. Then in Then in 1998 God sent me ”home” to Israel to spread the knowledge of His love and glory through Jesus to the Jewish people. And in fulfilment of prophesy, from Israel to the nations of the world.
In Him and for His glory,