Carols and Candlelight Services: How They Helped Two Jews Find Jesus: Part Two
An excerpt from Disowned
The following excerpts come from two story booklets. If you can’t wait to see how a story ends, please do not read these two pages! If you enjoy tasty appetizers and are willing to send away for one or both stories, read on!
On February 24, 1971, I went on my very first, and last, blind date. My roommate, Will, had a girlfriend, Kate, who had a roommate: Janice Anne Isbell. Jan was my blind date, and before she said a single word, I knew she was going to be my wife. After our date, I think she knew, too. Will and Kate eventually broke up, but Jan and I were together to stay. Two years later we married.
In the interim, August of 1972, I was accepted into law school in Tacoma, Washington. The day before I moved to Tacoma, I was standing out on a sunny Seattle hillside overlooking Lake Washington and the university district. It was then that the big black Lincoln Continental drove up, and a stranger approached me. His dark suit might as well have been a Western Union uniform, because he politely delivered his message then left, his purpose apparently accomplished. He did not attempt to explain the message that he claimed God had for me: You are to study the Bible and become a believer in Jesus because your mission in life is to bring the gospel to other Jewish people.” It was too bizarre for me to try to correct him, and I certainly was not going to tell a total stranger that he must’ve gotten his wires crossed because I intended to be a lawyer.
Meanwhile, Alan [a Christian friend] continued to pray for me and tell me about Jesus on our Reserves weekends. We would sit together and discuss what happened in the preceding month. I told him of my struggles with law school. He responded by taking out his pocket Bible and reading a couple of verses that were meaningful to him. He always managed to bring the conversation back to Jesus. Frankly, I did not know enough about the Bible to counter him. I wanted to be around Alan because while I felt overcome by life’s difficulties, he seemed able to overcome them. He had finished law school, and I was in my first year. We both were in the Air Force Reserves, a situation that involved it’s own set of quirks and challenges. He was newly married, and while Jan and I were not yet wed, we had committed to one another with a view toward marriage. Through everything, Alan radiated joy amid adversity while the same sorts of adversity made me downright grumpy.
I could not dismiss what he was saying as having nothing to do with me, and perhaps for that reason, I started to challenge his beliefs. When that had little effect, I finally told him, “I’m Jewish. Jewish people don’t believe, nor do we need to believe in Jesus!” I assumed that would be enough to stop him from talking to me about God, but I had no idea that he would continue talking to God about me!
Alan later admitted that he had prayed daily for God to make me miserable in what he described as my spiritual complacency so that I would have to consider whether Yeshua (the Jewish way to say Jesus) was the promised Messiah.
In December of 1972, two months before our wedding, Jan’s parents asked me to join them at their church for a Christmas eve candlelight service. I had never been to a church, but I certainly didn’t want to offend my future in-laws. With no idea what to expect, I sat in the very back row.
The service began at 11:00 P.M. We each received a small candle with a bit of paper wrapped around it to prevent hot wax from burning our hands. The service was a strange new experience for me, but there were some familiar elements. I’d sung some of the carols for the annual Christmas program when I was in grade school. Later, in high school and college, these same carols were standard fare for the concerts we gave. Still, I felt out of place. After all, this was their holiday, not mine.
At the end of the service, all electrical lights were extinguished. The only point of light to break the darkness of the sanctuary was a small candle burning brightly on the altar. The pastor invited the whole congregation to stand with him in a circle. He lit his candle from the altar and shared that fire with those standing near him. As the fire was passed from one person to the next, I was touched by the warmth, the glow, the joy that was so evident in that place. But I remained in the back, hidden in darkness.
If you would like to know how the prediction of the man in the black Lincoln Continental came true, the booklet Disowned costs $2.25 (includes postage and handling). California residents please add $.17 for tax. You can enclose the amount in the remit envelope. Be sure to include a note telling us you are buying the booklet.