Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall. -Psalm 55:22
Freshman year in high school was a very difficult time. I wanted to waste away until natural death came to me. I found a glimmer of hope in a classmate though. Not only was he an incredible athlete but he set the standards for every class he was in. For example, if an A+ was 100 points on a test, this classmate scored 104 because of the work he did. Because people marveled at this, he wasn’t a source of frustration when the teacher couldn’t then grade on a curve. The friend’s thighs were thickly padded with muscles but still so defined and perfectly sculpted that to this day, I think someone should correct the David’s thighs to match.
This friend was only a freshman in high school and he could do all of this, but what he did that was so impressive was that he capped this all off with reading his Bible during lunch. If friends were sitting with him, he tucked the Bible to the side until the conversation moved on and he could continue reading.
He was my standard for a strong Christian. Now, I was not a Christian in high school. Trauma weighed me down but not enough that my spirit wasn’t being charged by the acres upon acres of Maine land and knowing that there was a Holy Spirit that cared for me. I simply didn’t have a personal and interactive relationship with it. I thought I had something and what I had was good but all that there was.
So my classmate meant a lot to me because he was the kind of person who just wasn’t hypocritical and wouldn’t fall like so many others with the Faith. It’s nice to have a standard like that because it tells you how something should be and allows you to measure your progress and success. Having a standard for living and being goes a long way in setting your own milestones and boundaries.
Several years later, I was casually looking up some former classmates from Oak Hill High School when I came across this former classmate and realized that he chose to go to college at the school where I currently worked. Small world. The only thing is that the department where I work in the college was full of very entitled and snobby graduates. They had redeeming qualities but the environment and the reputation of the staff got to be so unprofessional that one of the directors working directly with my team came right out can labeled it, “very abusive.” Naturally I wondered, “Why would this guy of pronounced faith go to this particular school, which was known by local Christians and churches for not having showing Christian values, when he could’ve chosen to go to any school he wanted? He must have dealt with a lot while in school…”
I looked a little further in his Facebook profile and found that he was working at Home Depot or Lowe’s. It’s honest work but wouldn’t you expect someone like this former classmate to also have a job that might be saving lives or doing more meaningful work than being a general associate at a hardware store? This was a typical post college job for many students at this expensive private school. Some graduates went into upwardly mobile, social work, corporate jobs and a few the missionary fields. It just seemed a little strange because I didn’t get the impression this man of God had capitalized on all he could do by any means.
He had so much potential in his youth.
I sent him a Facebook message saying hi and asking about his several posts about Israel.
Can I ask – Have you become Jewish or are you still a Christian? I remember you reading your Bible during lunch and I thought you were Christian but Yoav is a Jewish title right?
I had only been a Christian for one year when I wrote this. After becoming a Christian, I thought of this guy and used the image to move myself along my Christian journey. I expected to hear back from a Christian who knew more about why God wants us to bless Israel. It took two years for him to respond but this great guy did and here is part of his response:
To answer your question, yes, I left Christianity about 10 years ago, and eventually went through the conversion process to join the Jewish people. Yoav is my Hebrew name, so I added it to my Facebook account so friends in the Jewish community could find me online.
Now, from the post you put on my timeline a while ago, I’m assuming that you are a Christian, so if you wouldn’t mind bearing with me through a long-ish message I’d like to explain in a friendly way that I didn’t leave Christianity because I had a bad experience, or thought Christians were hypocrites (I know I’ve met some atheists for whom this was the case).
I left because I love God with all of my heart and soul and might…I love the Hebrew Scriptures (what Christians call the “Old Testament”) and as I studied it over my life, I found that Christian doctrines were contrary to what the Bible really teaches, and were instead taken from pagan traditions. I know that may sound insulting, and I can be honest and say I had a really hard time looking into these scriptures and the history of pagan religions for myself. But when it comes down to it, I believe we can all agree that God set the standard in the Hebrew scriptures (old testament), which came first, so anything that came later (such as the new testament writings) must agree with what He teaches us in those Hebrew scriptures or it is not from God.
I also learned that I had a completely wrong idea about Jews and what they believed, mostly from what is said about Jews in the Christian New Testament writings and how Jews were talked about in the churches that I went to. I believed that Jews were all about “works” and didn’t have any kind of relationship with God. I believed that Jews didn’t read the Bible, and only read the Talmud (I had no idea what the Talmud was, but people in the church always talked about it negatively so that formed my opinions).
When I started visiting Synagogues, hearing Jews read from the Scriptures in the original Hebrew language, discussing the Bible with such love and passion, and living out their faith in such a real and loving way, it completely destroyed all of the misinformation and prejudices I had formed in the Church.
I encourage you to continue to pursue your faith, and to really look into not just what you believe, but why you believe it. Don’t just take my word for it, or a Pastor’s, or a Rabbi’s…look into the Hebrew Scriptures and history for yourself. Having your faith challenged is not easy (believe me, I know…it really is hard), but in the end what matters is honoring God, not what is easy.
I was floored when I received his message. I’ve shortened his response and the video he sent me of a Jew comparing Christianity to a cult. Now if you fell into true Occult practices like I did for about a year, you know what a cult is and the Jewish man had no experience but I realize that with this video, my friend had no apparently never heard good counter arguments and solid biblical facts that crushed these heretical and anti-Christian ideas. I don’t want the former classmate to look bad so I’ll leave out the bullet points that would paint him in a negative light.
I personally did not become a Christian until three years ago. I had a born-again experience that was amazing and I actually felt the presence of the Christ himself which I didn’t even know I could feel because I didn’t grow up in church is knowing that.
I only knew that it was Jesus because I had told God a few days before that I wanted to give Him a shot to know Him so well that I knew God is the father, as a son, and the Holy Ghost. And that’s when my conversion happened and I actually felt the presence of the Christ himself.
A few days later, an enormous angel stood in front of me and it led me to a mission that lasted for two years. Actually, I’ve recently started writing about it from the prompting of the Holy Spirit so it’s been quite an adventure to say the least! Thanks for sharing I think this is really interesting and I’ll check this out!
This is the last we have written to one another. I wondered more why the college didn’t provide follow up questions to this student and why someone so intelligent didn’t at least Google the concerns. Had he been so beguiled so easily? The college encourage students to attend Jewish groups and synagogue to promote healthier relationships and did see a struggle with students converting to Judaism but one’s faith has to be personal and not passed down second hand from the Church and parents or even a school. However, “We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28) don’t we?
So I supposed that it’s my turn to pick up the torch and to be a light for someone else. Seems a little intimidating to someone who is full of herniated discs and has “moderate depression” and Inattentive ADHD but here’s some inspiration:
“He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant – not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” (2 Corinthians 3:6) That should take a load off for the average Joe. I expected it too. But I read this as an authentic Christian so reading this verse touches me personally and makes me feel so loved and considered precious in His sight. We have a responsibility, we are prepared to fulfill it and someone loved us enough to give us life. Well that certainly makes things easier doesn’t it?
Readers, when you run into disappointing, punch in the gut moments like this, takes your queues from me to hang in there, no matter how imperfect you are and, “Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.” (Psalm 55:22)
Oh – one last encouraging quote from Scripture: “Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” (Ephesians 6:18)