I’ve heard it said many times that the times in our lives lead us to where we should be; that we pick up various things along the way which we will need later in life. You’ve probably heard this too. Most people say this as a way to ease someone’s pain during a trying time. There is much more to this little saying than I ever knew.
Today HaShem showed me some miraculous things about my life. He showed me how all of the times in my life have been leading up to today. This came in the form of a realization. G-d gives us realizations from time to time. This means He is communicating with us, guiding us. Today, He showed me that He is guiding me and has been all along.
I was born into a devout Christian family. I was raised that way. When I got out on my own, like most people in my generation, I rebelled against all of that. I got into drugs and drank heavily for nearly twelve years. At the time it felt like much longer. When I was twenty-seven, I gave up that lifestyle completely. I returned to my religious upbringing, although I didn’t necessarily live the ideal Christian life. At the time I would have probably tried to justify some of the things I did. I lived in an unmarried relationship. I didn’t attend church much. I was just living what I thought was a normal life. Little did I know, HaShem was watching and guiding me the entire time.
When I was a teenager, I didn’t date. I was scared to death of girls. I think it was more of a fear of rejection. I suffered from depression which I think led to the drugs and alcohol. The drugs and alcohol brought friends along with them. There was acceptance. It felt good to be part of a group. I played the guitar and found myself playing music, mostly at parties which also included lots of drugs and alcohol. Society will tell you that mixing depression with alcohol is not really the best blend one can use as a means of living. As I will show you, society got it wrong and HaShem, as always, got it just right.
So there I was; another long-haired guitar player who had abused his body like so many who had gone on before. I was into blues so the drug lifestyle seemed to help that along. My depression fed my music and the alcohol fed my depression. It was symbiotic really.
After I cleaned up my act, I got into a small church where I was allowed to play music. I started writing songs that I could play there. During this time, I was renting a place from a friend of mine whom I had grown up with doing drugs. He was good about my wanting to stop. It didn’t matter to him. We started working together doing siding and windows. We never made much money, but we worked a lot of hours. I had hurt my back a year earlier, so vinyl siding was a good job for me. It is light and easy to work with. The business ultimately failed because my partner sort of did me wrong in a number of ways. I decided it was time to move on.
At the age of twenty-eight, I left Florida and moved north to Georgia where my brother lived. I got a good job as a welder and also worked part-time for my brother. After a few years, we bought an auto repair shop. This was a big turning point in my life. Things started moving quickly.
Some people I knew were going to a church with some biker friends of theirs. As it turned out they wanted to start their own church. They asked me if I would like to work with the music. I was thrilled. I became part of what they called the praise team. I also started a christian rock group with some friends. I thought it was great. I was playing music four or five days per week. The church got big surprisingly fast. This is where I met the woman who would change my life forever.
My wife and I had our first date on December 24, 2002. We were married January 24, 2003. It was a whirlwind romance and we are still together fourteen years later Baruch HaShem. As I am writing this, we are about a week away from our fourteenth anniversary. Many men will say their wife has been the best thing in their lives. Some say it because they think that is what is expected. I don’t, and you will soon see why.
After we married, we went through the same trials most newlyweds experience. It is always difficult going from being a single person to suddenly having a family. There are things that arise that will certainly test your resolve. Let’s just leave it at that. We left the church where we’d met because the whole thing became too controlling. The pastor decided and announced during a service that it was his church and things would be like he said and anyone who didn’t like it could leave. We left. We tried going back after a while but it wasn’t the same for us.
We stayed away from the church for probably ten years or more. We moved to Florida for some time and wound up moving back to Georgia. We raised our kids and made a life for ourselves like everyone else does. We started attending services at a church near our home after being back in Georgia for roughly six years. The people were nice. The pastor was nice and not controlling. But something was about to change.
My wife got a book by David Klinghoffer called, Why the Jews Rejected Jesus: The Turning Point in Western History,(Three Leaves. ISBN 978-0-385-51021-9.) She started telling me things I hadn’t heard before. Apparently, there is a great deal of information about Jesus that the church doesn’t talk about. For more information about these things, see my other blog entries.
She quit going to church with my son and me. She didn’t really say why because she didn’t want to push things on me. She knew I wasn’t ready. She would simply tell me things she’d learn from listening to lectures. As the super-intelligent Bible scholar I thought I was, I would try to explain these things away. Little by little, I started listening.
One day she played a lecture by Rabbi Tovia Singer in which he explained how the church changed the text of the Bible to fit their christology. I was floored. “The Bible can’t be changed,” I thought. But there it was in black and white. Now I have read in the Bible where it says that it cannot be changed. I thought like most christians do, that meant that G-d wouldn’t allow His word to be changed. The christian bible must be right. Well, I found out this means something rather different. It’s not that the words can’t physically be changed. What it means is that even if someone does come along and change the words, the original words are still in effect. What I’m saying is that the Hebrew Scriptures, as given to Moses and the prophets, are the same yesterday, today and forever. What was said back then is still in place today. The book that the christians use is not what was written back then.
That was the day I left christianity and I have not looked back. I would never have done this without the gentle teaching and guiding of my wife. She was patient and loving through the entire time. But, as I said at the beginning, HaShem was guiding me through my entire life, even through my times in the church and the idolatry on which it stands.
If I hadn’t been born into that christian family, I would never have gone to church camp that summer at the age of ten and dedicated my life to a ministry of music. If I didn’t dedicate my life to music, I wouldn’t have stated playing music. If I hadn’t started playing music, I would never have met the friend I told you about earlier. If I hadn’t met him, I wouldn’t have met other friends with whom I started playing in bands. If I hadn’t met him, I wouldn’t have been introduced to drugs. If I didn’t start taking drugs, I wouldn’t have become the drug-addled musician. If I hadn’t become a musician, I wouldn’t have started playing in churches. If I hadn’t started playing in churches, I would never have met my wife. If I hadn’t met my wife, I would never have left christianity. If I’d never left christianity, I’d never be converting to Judaism and I wouldn’t be here today writing this article. There is my life, as guided by the hand of the Creator, up to this very minute.
You see, the Creator knew all of these things must happen in my life in order for me to become who I am right now. He also knows that who I am right now and the things in my life, is what will make me who I will be in the future. This is truly a miracle. He is doing miracles every day, in every life on this planet.
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