January 5, 2004
"The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant
places; surely I have a delightful inheritance"
(Tehillim / Psalms 16:5).
Until my late teens, God didn't mean much to me. I
grew up in a turbulent home, full of anger and
discord. The instability I endured had a negative
effect on me. Fear, anxiety, and depression filled my
Then one day I met another Jewish teenager like
myself. He was very excited about his recent discovery
of Yeshua (Jesus) as the Messiah. When he began to
share his discovery with me, I was not so excited. For
much of my life I had not given much thought to God
and spiritual things. Yet, as a Jew, I knew the
Messiah had not yet come, and that Jesus had no
relevancy whatsoever to me or my people.
As we talked that afternoon, there were certain things
that I heard that did intrigue me. I had never read
the many predictions regarding the Messiah in the
Jewish Bible. Encountering passages such as Isaiah,
chapter 53, did catch my attention. I had also never
heard of the concept of the Messiah's provision of
forgiveness. But there was one thing I was told that
day that really caught my attention. I was told that
if I would pray a certain prayer, asking God to
forgive me for my sins and inviting the Messiah into
my heart and life, I would be happy for the rest of my
life and live forever. While I didn't care too much
about eternity, I wanted to be happy.
I didn't think that anyone under any circumstances
could be happy all the time, but what I heard that day
made a lot of sense. And the way it was presented to
me (or at least the way I understood it), I simply
needed to say that prayer, and if it was real, then I
would know happiness. If not, then life would just
continue on as normal. I figured I had nothing to
lose, so I did it.
And you know what? Everything changed. The anxiety and
fear I had been struggling with disappeared for the
first time in weeks – just like that. I don't think I
had ever been as happy and as excited about living as
I was at that time. It would be about five months
before I would encounter any significant emotional
struggles. When that happened, I began to wonder what
was going on. I had thought I was going to be happy
for the rest of my life.
Thankfully, the day I said that prayer, there was more
going on than the reciting of a magic formula. While I
was most intrigued by the prospect of being happy, the
objective truth of what I saw in the Scriptures had
greatly impacted me. As I began to accept that I would
still face all kinds of pain and difficulties, I also
began to experience greater and greater depths of
Since then I have been slow to recognize the love and
presence of God in the midst of disappointment and
hardship. Although God has been very good to me, I
have tended to focus more on my difficulties than on
the good that God was doing in the midst of those
A dramatic example of this occurred only a couple of
weeks ago. My family and I were travelling to visit
relatives. The drive had been pleasant with good road
conditions and light traffic. After driving for about
two hours, we were almost at our destination. All of
sudden everything changed. Light snow was falling, it
was getting dark, and many more cars were on the road.
We were in a location where an entrance to the freeway
led almost immediately to an exit. Another car had
entered the freeway and began to move into our lane.
It then began to get back into the exit lane,
hesitated and then moved halfway into our lane and
I then tried to stop, but realized that there was no
way I would not hit that car. Since it was taking up
half my lane, I thought that I could move over enough
to avoid the collision, but not get hit by the
vehicles in the next lane. I swerved and missed
hitting that car by about an inch, while another
vehicle to my left sped by me. Everyone was alright.
I was haunted by that scene for two weeks as I thought
about how I could have been partly responsible for a
multi-vehicle collision. We were, of course, so
thankful that no harm was done. Yet still it bothered
me. While I believed that God protected us, why did he
let the almost collision happen?
It was not until very recently that I realized how
caught up I was in the "what if" of that situation,
instead of the "what happened." Certainly it was a
near mishap. It was frightening, but in reality, we
were kept safe. My focus on the near mishap kept me
from celebrating God's protection. I realize now, how
happy I should have been over the incident, instead of
being as upset as I was.
Part of the problem with the concept of being happy
forever has to do with our understanding of happiness.
Being happy is not about the absence of problems. It
is more to do with a general perspective on life. It
is a deep knowing that life is good in spite of daily
circumstances. This is something that I am still
learning. It is a process that began that wonderful
day many years ago, when I first prayed that prayer.