I remember growing up knowing somehow that God was very real. My family was Reformed Jewish. That meant we were not extremely observant, but we held onto our Jewish identity. Dad would hold services” in our living room, and we would read out of the standard Reform siddur—the Union Prayer Book. (We had these Sabbath services at home because my sister and I were always a distraction at the Friday night Temple services.)
I remember one day, as Hanukkah approached, I asked my dad who God was. He thought for a moment and told me that God was a spirit, without form, and that he was everywhere. Of all that my dad told me, what stuck most in my mind was his statement that God could drop a lightning bolt through the ceiling if he wanted to. I remembered that part most because I didn’t want God to punish me for squirming during our family services.
My Jewish father had a great love for God, and God is still very real and very personal to him. When I was little, my dad used to read to me about Hanukkah and tell me this story about the High Priest in Judea during the rule of Alexander the Great:
Alexander the Great had conquered lands and nations, and now he was on the march to Jerusalem. People and entire towns fled before this awesome force. All of Jerusalem was in a flurry as to what to do, but the High Priest was very calm and at peace. “God will protect us,” he said. The day came when Alexander and his mighty armies marched into Jerusalem. (At this point, my eyes were as big as saucers as I listened to my dad unfold the drama.)
The great Alexander was met by one lonely priest, empty-handed, dressed in his long white garment and mitre. Alexander was awe-stricken. His mighty men of war watched as that legendary hero sprang from his powerful horse, walked up to the High Priest and knelt before him. Alexander told his men, “Every time I enter battle, I look up to the sky, and I see someone like this man you see before you. And when I do, I know we will have victory.” Through some mighty miracle consistent in Alexander’s life, God’s holy land was spared, and under Alexander, Judea lived in peaceful prosperity.…
“God allowed King Alexander to win for his purposes,” Dad used to tell me, “and indeed, the kings and rulers of this earth are all subject to the King of Kings. Alexander saw not the high priest, but God’s very Ruach ha Kodesh—the Holy Spirit—in the high priest.”
In many similar ways. God used my dad to nurture me spiritually and to build a faith in me that later led me to Yeshua. My dad, however, still does not know Yeshua personally.
I remember another story—about me. When I was only three, I was in a battle for my life with a dreadful illness. They feared I had leukemia. When the doctors lost hope, it was Dad who fell to his knees and looked up to heaven. He committed me, his only son, into God’s hands. God accepted his offer those many years ago, as if to say, “OK, I will heal him, and he’s mine now, but you may not like where I lead him.”
Today I am working with Jews for Jesus. My dad doesn’t understand why. Yet. I think he knows somehow in the back of his mind that I am serving that same King of Kings he told me about so long ago. Please pray for my dad!