Joy in Yennevelt
That Sunday night felt like the hundred millionth time I was going to speak at a church on Christ in the Passover. Though the presentation is very meaningful, I had brought it so often during a short period of time that I felt stale and weary of doing it once again. Worse yet, my destination was Yennevelt (a Yiddish idiom for out in the boondocks”) a whole hour’s drive outside of Dallas.
Inwardly I kept asking myself, “Why on earth has God dragged me way out here to preach?” Looking back, I should have been asking why, but out of anticipation, not exasperation. I will never do that again, because wonderful things happened that night.
At the literature table after my presentation a tall, strapping fellow tapped me on the arm. As I turned toward him, he stuck out his hand and introduced himself. He said he had brought a Jewish friend with him, but she was too embarrassed just to walk up and introduce herself to me. Would I come over and talk to her?
My eyes grew wide as saucers at this oppportunity. I dropped what was in my hands and blurted out, “Sure!”
Diane was standing off in a corner waiting. The friend who had brought her introduced us and “broke the ice.” Diane told me that her parents had grown up in a very Orthodox environment, but she had been raised Reformed and really did not know that much about Judaism.
“My grandfather would roll over in his grave if he knew I was in a church,” she said.
We made our way to the back of the building and sat down. I asked Diane what she had thought about my presentation of Christ in the Passover.
“Well,” she responded, “Jesus certainly was Jewish…”
I sensed that Diane wanted to qualify that statement, and she did. Suddenly she blurted out, “But he wasn’t God—or born of a virgin!”
I reminded Diane that earlier in our conversation she had said that she believed the Bible was true. Then I continued, “If I could show you where the Bible addresses these things, would you then be willing to consider that Jesus is the Messiah?”
“Uh, yes, I guess I’d have to,” she responded.
I grabbed my Bible, flipped it open to Zechariah 12:10. And began to read aloud what God had spoken through the prophet: “…then they will look on Me whom they have pierced; they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son.…”
I explained that time and again the Hebrew Scriptures seemed to indicate that God Himself would die for the sins of His people, and in order to do that, God would have to become a man. “So,” I continued, “it’s really not such a strange thing if Jesus the Messiah were to be born of a virgin!” Then I opened my Bible to Isaiah 7:14 and asked Diane to read the words, “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel.”
I said, “‘Immanuel’ means ‘God with us.’ God became a man to die for His people. That’s who the Messiah is and what He came to do. He came to save His people from their sins.”
Diane seemed a little overwhelmed by everything, but I felt confident that the Holy Spirit was working in her heart. She felt resistant to accepting Jesus because she could not get it out of her mind that believing in Him was an “un-Jewish” thing to do.
I reminded her of what we had just read. “If that’s all true, then believing in Jesus is actually the most Jewish thing a person could do!” I concluded.
A few minutes later Diane agreed to risk going against tradition and pray to accept Jesus as her Messiah! I promised to meet with her as often as possible to answer all those questions that were still troubling her. I assured her that accepting Jesus as Messiah did not mean that we immediately had all the answers “figured out.” It was not a case of all or nothing, but our commitment was the beginning.
I felt very excited that night as I drove home to Dallas. It was a long trip, and I was still tired, but it was a different kind of fatigue—the kind that comes from completing an important task. I learned a lesson, and it was a night to remember. The next time I drive out to Yennevelt for a church meeting, I will be asking a question again, but it will be one of anticipation: “Lord, what person will be touched by You in a special way or become a believer in Jesus tonight?”