When the baby comes…” my mother said to me for what seemed like the hundredth time. “Baby, shmaby,” I thought to myself. I had been the center of my family’s attention for almost two years. Now my position of only grandchild was quickly coming to an end. I was really too young to understand all that was happening. All that I knew was that my bedroom had been painted a different color, my bed had been relocated to a distant corner, and in its place stood a huge, fenced-in mattress on stilts. Those changes in my world seemed to foreshadow another change something very significant. That “something” was called “The Baby.” For some reason, I had to wait to play with the yellow teddy bear, the shiny plastic steering wheel still in its wrapper and the caged-in bed until “The Baby” came. My world was beginning to revolve around this new something, and already I could tell that I was not going to like “The Baby.”
At last the day arrived, and my father assured me, “Yes, Princess, today mother is coming home, and she is bringing ‘The Baby’.” The whole family, including the grandparents, gathered at our house, Then Mom came home. Everyone huddled around the thing in her lap. Was this “The Baby”? In the first three minutes of that homecoming event, all my worst fears were confirmed. “The Baby” was the pride and joy of our family—a boy who, they said, looked just like my grandfather. He owned the teddy bear, the steering wheel, and the central position in my bedroom. I did not like “The Baby”!
As the years passed, I made sure that my brother Noel knew how little I appreciated his intrusion into my life. I made him the recipient of many practical jokes, blamed him for my mistakes, and even refused to admit we were related when he invaded another part of my world, elementary school. Not until years later when we were separated, did I acknowledge our relationship. Noel joined the Marines and served in Japan during politically trying times. He was the pride of our family, and had become a central figure in my life. During the long years of our separation many changes took place for me.
I had spent years searching for answers to many questions, and on January 23, 1976, I found “the Answer” in a central truth of our Jewish heritage. I knew that God had commanded my people to worship him, the only true God, and had promised to send the Messiah to make this worship possible. In January of 1976 my search ended as I came to know the Hope of Israel in Yeshua, our Messiah. I saw my human imperfection and God’s provision of the ultimate atonement in the death of the Messiah. I knew that his sacrifice brought me God’s forgiveness so I could fully worship him. My new relationship with God brought me to a place of acceptance—acceptance of his will, my circumstances and myself.
Because I had experienced complete acceptance in Yeshua, now I was able to accept others, including “The Baby.” In fact, I grew to care very much for my little brother, who by then had become a very independent, self-sufficient and defensive individual. I realized the effect my earlier cruelty had had on his life, and I committed myself to praying daily for him.
During those years of our separation, I wrote to Noel often and saved each letter I received in response. In my letters I tried to explain my new-found faith and my new-found love for him. He usually responded with sarcasm, and I will never forget the day he assured me he wanted nothing to do with “that God.”
When Noel returned to the States, he demanded that I stop talking to him about Yeshua. Obviously I could not agree to his requirement for our relationship, but I realized that I could be a little more tactful than I had been. After our brief time together he moved to his new home in North Carolina. We did not correspond for several weeks.
One afternoon I answered the telephone and squealed a hearty “Yes!” when the operator asked if I would accept a call from Cherry Point, North Carolina. Noel’s voice sounded gruff as he said, “I have found that there are three groups of people here: drifters, dopers and servants of God. I know you pray, so I want you to pray for me. I will end up in one of these groups. This morning I went to church.”
I wondered what had prompted my brother to go to church. Afraid of saying the wrong thing, I simply told him I would pray. A few days later he called again. “I don’t think you understand. Maybe I wasn’t clear. I am studying the Scriptures. I…well, I think you may be right.” Later Noel told me the story of his supernatural confrontation with God.
Noel is a believer now. We had another telephone conversation last spring that prompted me to write down my vantage point of his spiritual pilgrimage. He called collect again, only this time it was from Chicago, where he is attending Moody Bible College. Like me, he is also serving with the Jews for Jesus staff.
Noel is proof to me that God hears our prayers for our families. He is also proof to me that God can bring complete forgiveness and true love into our relationships here on earth. “The Baby” whom I so resented as a child has become my “crown and my rejoicing” as a believer.
I see an interesting parallel between my original perspective of the coming of “The Baby” and the coming of another Baby who is especially remembered at this time. Just as I resented the central focus my brother received, we often reject the central focus Jesus deserves. Just as I refused the relationship my brother desired, we often refuse the relationship Yeshua requires of us. And just as I hurt my brother by denying his existence, we often bring sorrow to God by refusing to admit his reality. Though Jesus is not our “younger brother,” we do, in a sense, share a “family” relationship with him. The grief we create by rejecting him can be overcome only by the love we experience in our first-hand knowledge of a relationship with him.
I am grateful to God for the relationships he has restored to me in my family. I am even more grateful for the relationship with himself he has provided me through the supreme sacrifice of dying in my place. I hope that others will find encouragement in my brother’s story to pray for their family members, knowing that God delights to the “impossible.” I also invite our Newsletter readers to join me in prayer for other members of my family as they search for life’s answers. Pray that they too will be able to enjoy the Baby of Christmas and worship him as the Prince of Peace.