I had a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother. When I was pre-school age, I remember looking up into the night sky at all the stars and the vastness of it all, being frightened and wondering if there was a G-d, and if so, if He even knew or cared about me. When I was in the second grade, I read a magazine article about extrasensory perception (ESP) and was absolutely fascinated by it. That began a quest to learn more about the subject, and in the future, somehow I equated this with my search for G-d.
Combining my notion of the need to be perfect to get to G-d and my interest in ESP, I began to search for the route to G-d via reincarnation, astrology, and the occult. The term New Age wasn’t in vogue then, but that would be an apt description of what I was into at the time. This continued until I was an adult, and I’m sure it contributed to my getting off track in my life. Despite my interest in the occult, I strongly identified with being Jewish. In college once, two girls from Campus Crusade for Christ began sharing the L-rd with me, and I said, "I’m Jewish", fully believing that would put a stop to it. They just became more enthusiastic, and all I could think of was that I had to get out of there.
In my pre-teen years, my parents divorced, and my father got custody of my younger sister and me. Although prior to this time, we knew we were Jewish and were very close to my father’s family, that family was quite Reform, with several intermarriages, so family events (which were great!) were actually get-togethers on holidays of both cultures, without real religious involvement. My father, a wonderful, loving father, who gave up a lot to be the single parent of two girls, was an agnostic. After my father got custody of us, we moved to Abilene, TX, where we got very involved with the small synagogue and Jewish community there, as Daddy wanted us to have a sense of community. It was there that our Jewish identity began to most strongly develop. During High Holy Day services, since I didn’t read Hebrew and was very bored, but had to attend and behave, I read through the English version of the Siddur many times. I was vividly struck with the listing of the sins for which we were asking forgiveness. Although I was only about thirteen when I became acutely aware of this and knew I had not done many of the sins listed, I knew I had the capacity to do them. I developed the sense that one had to be perfect to get to G-d. Therefore, I was terrified during the Days of Awe, between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, that I would not be written up in the Book of Life for the following year.
Shortly after I graduated from college and began working, my father died suddenly. This was absolutely devastating. Not too much after that I married a man that I met on a blind date, rebounding from the sudden death of my father. This was quite a mistake, as he turned out to be an alcoholic and a womanizer, although I do have a wonderful daughter from that marriage. As things worsened in my marriage, I kept up my search for G-d through the occult. Two coworker friends were very interested in astrology, and we talked a lot about the occult. G-d was trying to break through, however. I worked for the Welfare Department, and once I was in the back yard of one of my clients, an elderly black lady, and we were discussing a recent earthquake. (I had become aware that there had been a lot of earthquakes recently.) She said it was like what was in the Book of Revelation in the Bible. I had access to a Bible so I read the Book of Revelation. I didn’t understand it, and it terrified me, but it made an impression on me.
Also, G-d placed my desk at work next to a middle-aged man, who had been a missionary to Mexico. He was what I termed a religious fanatic, always saying "Praise the L-rd ‘this’, and praise the L-rd ‘that’." Because he was my elder, I didn’t want to be rude, so I allowed myself to be drawn into conversations about the L-rd with him. I was going through a terrible time in my life, with my marriage, so some of the philosophical viewpoints my co-worker brought up were definitely food for thought. He also kept telling me that G-d loved the Jews and that G-d had a plan for the Jews. This was a novel idea to me that a "religious fanatic" could love the Jews. Most of all, I was really impressed with his peace of mind. I knew he and his wife had seven children to support and raise and that one of his babies had died in his arms in Mexico. The fact that he had this peace of mind despite all this really impressed me, although I didn’t really connect it with Yeshua at the time.
My "religious fanatic" coworker, Dale, went on to another job. Sometime after that I developed severe gall bladder trouble and was scheduled for surgery, which was terrifying. I thought that I could die, and I still didn’t know the truth about life and everything. Also about this time, one of my astrology fan coworkers told me about a book that one of her husband’s friends had told her about, that was supposed to explain what was going on in the world at that time. She said she’d read it and didn’t like it. I had this overwhelming compulsion that I HAD TO READ THAT BOOK. However, I didn’t know the name or author. My supervisor at work told me that the author was Hal Lindsay. I went all over town trying to find that book. I believe that the book everyone else had in mind was probably The Late Great Planet Earth. However, the only Hal Lindsay book that I could find was Satan Is Alive and Well on Planet Earth. I bought the book and was sitting up in bed reading it. It explained why the occult was really of Satan, and it laid out the plan of salvation through Messiah Yeshua. It was as if the light bulb went on, and the veil was removed. Suddenly I understood that Jesus (Yeshua, His real name, wasn’t being utilized as much then) paid the price for our sins so that we could have eternal life with G-d, and all that I had to do was to accept that and Him. So, I did. I thought, "this is the truth that I’ve been looking for all my life" and also "so that’s what Dale was trying to tell me all this time!"
I had the surgery with much greater peace of mind, and G-d even gave me a new believer roommate in the hospital, and we encouraged each other greatly. A few weeks after the surgery, my marriage ended, and I was a single parent with a two-year-old and not very much money. I had a large collection of occult books, which G-d impressed on me that I needed to get rid of. It was a terrible struggle, because I knew I had spent a lot of money on them. I even thought about selling them to a second hand bookstore. I could feel the struggle between G-d and Satan over this. However, finally G-d impressed on me that if I sold the books, I would be leading someone else into the same trap, so I threw them away. Within two months, between state employee pay raises and a promotion at work, my monthly income increased $400 per month. That was my first experience with the blessings of obedience to G-d. I have to admit that I have not always been as obedient as I should have been, but G-d is not through with me yet, either.
Also, shortly after I found Yeshua as Messiah, I became involved with Beth Sar Shalom, which was a mission to Jewish people, where I received excellent teaching and grounding in the L-rd. I have always tried to be involved with Messianic Jewish worship and study since becoming a believer, as I know that is where I belong, with my people. Interestingly enough, as I have studied the scriptures and have been involved with Messianic Judaism, I have become more Torah observant, as I believe this is one of the ways G-d has been leading me to worship Him and to learn more of Him.
A scripture that means a lot to me, as it is so descriptive of my search for G-d is Jeremiah 29:13, which says "And you will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart." Also, now I’m no longer terrified during the Days of Awe, during the High Holy Days, as I know I’ve been written up in the Lamb’s Book of Life through Messiah Yeshua.