The old Yiddish adage, “We plan, God laughs” is a great reminder of His sovereignty. So much so that I have the saying posted on a refrigerator magnet in my kitchen. Many have commented on the truthfulness of that saying when they visit my home; often they themselves laugh when they read it, or at least give a knowing smile. As believers, most of us have seen that truth lived out many times in our own lives, but it’s much more fun to watch it played out in someone else’s life right before our eyes. I feel that this is what has been happening in our experience with Marty (not his real name).
Marty attended his first Jews for Jesus weekly Bible study in my home several months ago. We were introduced by one of our regular attendees, Sherry, who leads us in worship through music every week. She and Marty had recently met and he was interested in coming to spend some time with her, and to hear her sing. He was very pleasant but made it quite clear from the outset that he hadn’t come to learn about God, since he was agnostic at best, with very strong leanings towards atheism. He also made it clear that he certainly wasn’t interested in believing in Jesus, since he was Jewish—though he believed that Jesus lived and had many good things to say and teach. He also wanted me to know from that start that he didn’t believe that the Bible was true, either, so that anything we might say based on the Bible would hold no weight with him.
What he did believe in, however, was science and evolution. He was firmly committed to the idea that the Bible couldn’t possibly be true because “we know” that the world wasn’t created in seven days but has been around for millions, if not billions, of years.
I wasn’t sure that Marty would make it through that first Bible study, as we spend about an hour each week working line by line through a passage of Scripture. I was quite surprised that first week that Marty not only stayed for the entire study, but he was the last one out the door at the end of our fellowship hour. He asked question after question, raising objection after objection. And I, along with others, answered each one as best I could.
The following week Marty returned for more, and has returned almost every week since. At some point I discovered that he was a voracious reader, so for several weeks he would leave with a book (or even two) that I would recommend he read; whatever I loaned him he finished reading by the next week. He would usually call me sometime during the week with questions and comments about the reading material, but he would also come back with a list of things that he wanted to discuss.
Marty continues to insist that he will never believe what we believe, and sometimes asks me why I would want to “waste my time” with him in light of that fact.* When he asks me that, I simply remind him that he has actually shifted quite significantly over these last few months from being an almost total atheist to finally acknowledging (based on all he has read and heard) that there actually is a God. I told him that some of his questions and comments sound like someone who is sincerely searching for the truth. And then I ask him what he thinks keeps him coming back week after week if he’s really so closed to the idea. My prayer is that one day Marty will look back over this season and see that while he had his plans, there was God all along, laughing.
Karol Joseph leads our work in Brooklyn.
*Editor’s note: in fact, Marty is not the first to ask this question, and more than one person who did not want to “waste our time” has since come to faith in Jesus. Pray Marty will, too!