I did not think the situation sounded at all unusual. After all, many of the Jewish believers I know are trying to share the good news of Yeshua with their parents. So when Mrs. Goldstein began to tell me over the phone that her daughter was free to believe anything she wanted, I could almost finish the sentence for her. I knew she would end her statement by emphasizing that she did not need Jesus, but if her daughter needed to believe, it was okay, “as long as it makes her happy.” Edith had given me her mother’s name and phone number hoping that I would be able to find an opening to discuss the gospel.
I saw Mrs. Goldstein’s statement as an opportunity to raise a question, so I jumped in with, “Well, in a way I couldn’t agree with you more. Ultimately, I too want her to be happy. But true happiness is closely related to being at peace with oneself and with God.”
Mrs. Goldstein “uh-hummed” her agreement to my statement, so I continued. “It is true, we are free to believe whatever we want. There is only one stipulation. What we believe about God must agree with what he says about himself, or we must be willing to face the consequences of disagreeing with the Almighty.”
I went on to explain that though everyone has a right to make his or her own choice about religion and God, everyone must also experience the consequences of those choices.
At that Mrs. Goldstein posed the question I was hoping to hear, even though it did not sound like a question. She said, “But we can’t know what God thinks about himself or what he wants us to do about it.”
I waited a few seconds and then said, “Or can we? After all, if God is God and wants to reveal himself to his creation, can he clearly communicate?” Mrs. Goldstein chuckled and admitted there might be something to what I had to say. She agreed to a weekly Bible study with me, as long as it was just over the telephone.
“Edith is never going to believe this!” she exclaimed as we said our goodbyes.
During the next several weeks we studied together, and Mrs. Goldstein finally understood the messianic hope and what I told her about its fulfillment in Yeshua. Yet intellectual understanding is not enough when it comes to the issue of Yeshua. For a year I kept calling Mrs. Goldstein to offer a moment of prayer and encouragement. Each time she assured me that she was not yet ready to make a commitment to Yeshua. But then came Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
When I spoke with Mrs. Goldstein that afternoon, instead of the usual Yom Kippur blessing “may your name be inscribed” I ended our conversation with, “You can know that your name is inscribed in the Book of Life if you are willing to accept that Yeshua’s name was placed on the judgment page on your behalf.” Mrs. Goldstein asked me to explain and I reminded her of our studies that a lamb was sacrificed in Old Testament times in place of the judgment our people deserved. I repeated the fact that Yeshua had suffered the sinner’s death we deserved in order that our names could be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
Then I asked, “Mrs. Goldstein, are you ready to admit Who is able to inscribe your name? Is today the day?
She said, “Yes. This is it.”
She seemed so quick and certain that I thought maybe she had not understood, so I restated the gospel. Mrs. Goldstein assured me that she wanted to give her heart to Jesus, so we prayed over the phone! I have never met Mrs. Goldstein in person, but I know one day we will see each other in heaven. After we conversed for a few more moments, she asked if we could end our conversation.
“I want to call my daughter,” she said. “This will make her so happy.”
I knew she was right. Not only did Edith have peace with God, but now her mother could experience the same relationship. Mother and daughter were now reconciled as both had experienced the reconciliation to God granted in Jesus!