Updated: Oct 27, 2021
What I am about to tell you happened on the day I became Yeshua's, many years ago. But every now and then it seems I get to tell the story again, at least this part of a much longer story. Before I became a believer in Jesus, I had asked my rabbi why we Jews don't hear from God anymore. He spoke to Abraham, to the prophets, to King David and others. Why did He stop speaking to us Jews? My rabbi had no answer and wondered why I even asked such a strange question.
More than a year prior to this event, while I was in Israel, I had the strangest sense that Jesus was following me around. I had no previous experience with Him so this was entirely out of the blue. Yet it didn't even seem weird to me. It just somehow seemed normal. As I was on a trip with my rabbi and synagogue friends I wasn't about to tell any of them that I thought that Jesus was following me around. I never even thought of Him being alive. I thought maybe it was some kind of an Israeli experience. But then He followed me home. I spent the next year trying to figure out who this Jesus was who was born Jewish and somehow became the God of the Gentiles. How did that happen?
He certainly did not belong in my Jewish synagogue life but yet, I couldn't stop thinking about Him.. Finally, I asked to meet with a Jewish believer in Jesus to hear it from what I hoped would be a Jewish perspective. That's how I got to where I was when this happened.
So picture this: I’m sitting at the dining room table of a women named Marian. She is explaining to me how Jesus died on a cross 2000 years ago and somehow through that event, He supposedly paid for sins of which I was not the least aware, which would assure me entrance into heaven. However, this is not making the least bit of logical sense to me as Jews believe that God created us in His likeness, and since God is good, we are basically motivated for good by God. So why need a sin-conquering savior? I assumed Marian had been a believer in Jesus for so long she forgot what we Jews believe. My conclusion was that this was just not working out.
I was just about to tell her, “Thanks anyway, but my kids will be home soon and I gotta go,” when it happened, when I heard His Voice. I can’t say how I knew it was Jesus, it just was! Like when I knew it was Him in Israel. He leaned down close beside me and spoke into my right ear. Please understand that it wasn’t until later that I was able to put words to what I experienced. It all just seemed so natural when it happened, as if we are created to be in His presence. So it seemed perfectly natural to be with Him. He said only one word to me: “Listen.” It wasn’t the word that impacted me so much, though I would later realize its significance, it was all that His Voice conveyed. It was that of a very male thirty-something year old. I say very male because it carried the sense of a masterful masculinity. His voice also conveyed what I would later identify as unchallengeable authority, Yet I felt no fear, because at the same time I also experienced His utmost tenderness toward me personally along with a profound sense of comfort.
All this was conveyed to me in the one word He spoke to me. When He said “Listen,” I just listened. It wasn’t as if I would now understood what Marian was still saying. I didn't. It was more like when God speaks, it happens. He said, “Listen” and so I listened. Sh’ma (Listen) is the first word of one of the most prayed prayers in Judaism which was a part of my own synagogue life. Listen and hear are the same word in Hebrew. That He would choose that word to speak to me was significant then, and still is today. Much of my relationship with Him is still about listening.
As if on cue, Marian in the next moment asked if I wanted to accept Jesus as my Messiah. Though I still didn’t understand what all that would mean, I had the distinct sense that if I said no, I would be sorry for the rest of my life and maybe even longer though I had no idea what that might mean. So I agreed to pray with her though my only prayer experience had been to recite the prayers in a Sidur, a synagogue prayer book. This was a cultural leap for me to actually pray, let alone to or about Jesus. So I said my own prayer, the first genuine prayer I ever prayed in my entire life. It went something like this:
God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. If what I am being told, if I have sins in my life, then please forgive me. And if what she is telling me, that Jesus is the Messiah of Israel, then I want Him in my life. But if He is not, please don’t be angry with me for even asking. Amen.
Even so, immediately upon saying those words, I felt something happening within me I can only describe as it felt like there were chains breaking inside of me. Tears began to stream down my cheeks, though it had been a very long time since I had cried. I also somehow knew that He was aware of all the pains and sorrows in my life and that He had the power to turn it all to good. Only later was I able to grasp how in Him alone could these qualities of profound power, absolute authority, and deep and tender caring go together so perfectly.
It had been explained to me what being “born again” meant, and that was the one thing I did know immediately after my prayer: I knew whatever had just happened, I was born again, whatever that would turn out to mean in my life. It all took place on the day before my birthday. What a birthday gift for Jesus to give me Himself.