What am I doing here?

What am I doing here?
  What am I doing here?
What am I doing here?

Those were the questions I asked myself one August day in 1987 as I watched the moving van drive away. But I knew the answer. God had brought me to Portland to enroll in Western Conservative Baptist Seminary’s M.A. counseling program.

It was a long way from Brooklyn, N.Y, where I had started my teaching career, or Pico Rivera, CA, where I had just finished my career as a purchasing agent.

I had made myself available. I had sung choruses: “try me now and see, see is I can be completely Yours”. . . “make my life a living sacrifice,”. . . “everything I have, am, love, that is the price I will pay to follow You”.

I had believed every word and more importantly, I had meant them! That God knew my heart became obvious the day I gave away (to a relative stranger no less) my most priced and also most cumbersome possession, the Gypsy Princess (a white-water kayak). I should not have been surprised. When we make ourselves available He will use us; on elevators, planes, busses, hiked or visits to the dry cleaners. So my availability had now brought me to this time and place.

But I admit I had very mixed feelings. There was nothing I wanted to do more than learn about my Jesus. I was a Jew and had known God all my life. Every Sabbath we recited: “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one”, and “Thou shall love the Lord with all of your heart, soul and might.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5). But it was only the previous year, in April of 1986, that I met and accepted Yeshua as my personal Messiah. Ironically, I felt more Jewish then ever before. Now words in the Old Testament made sense as the veil had been lifted from my eyes. It was as if I had been on a rigid diet for forty years and had been turned loose in an ice cream parlor! It’s a strange analogy, but accurate. My appetite was insatiable and I couldn’t get enough. After all I had waited for Him all my life and so He had waited for me all my life.

During those first few days at seminary, I experienced real culture shock. I came to study, learn and worship, but was confronted be a strange new language. Christology and Angelology I could pretty well figure out (after all I was a college graduate), but eschatology? Hermeneutics? Exegesis? Soteriology (if it means end things, why isn’t it called end things?). I came thinking that I had been saved by my faith but was being told that I had been saved by grace!

And oh my, the discussions in the cafeteria. . . pre-millennium, post millennium, signs of rapture . . .  All I knew was that wherever Jesus wanted me to be, that is exactly where I’d be and I’d be there precisely when He wanted.

Dr. Earl Radmacher’s advice was perfect: “When things get tough, and they will, tie a knot in your rope and hang on”. My mantra became, For this. . . I have Jesus. Daily the this changed: one day it was theology, the next day some of the minor prophets (when was the last time you tried to explain to a ‘baby’ completed Jew the meaning of Ezekiel? How about Zechariah? Or  the process and practice of “integration!” The very word theology inspired fear and trembling. Imagine a “science to study God?”  As if he could be put under the microscope!

I saw everything through childlike eyes. But I recognized that He had put me here and I was ready to stay put and give it all I had. After all, He knew the plans for me and they did not include failing – even theology.

The professors were wonderful. As Tozer wrote, “Listen to the men who listen to God”, and I did.

The courses were smorgasbord of delight, and each day opened up new worlds to explore. And all things do work together for the good. By the middle of the second semester, I was so exited and enthused that I considered pursuing a Masters of Divinity and a joint M.A. in Christian Education as well as counseling. (Wondering about my age? A very young 43, but I wonder what it will be when I graduate?)

And then there has been my new family. I have been loved and accepted despite my unbridled and somewhat intimidating excitement about Jesus. I talk about Him incessantly and praise Him even more. In chapel I cannot worship without shedding tears of joy, humility, awe, wonder and a little bit of the pain as I grieve for His suffering.

Amazingly I am loved and accepted because of my Jewishness. Sadly I’ve learned that the Christian church may love the Jews and Israel, but often doesn’t know that much about them. Being a Jew is more that eating bagels or dancing the Hora. And finding Messiah is not a conversion (in modern vernacular) but rather a completion.   So the more I can learn at seminary about my Jesus and His new family, the more I can share with them about His family of old.

I don’t know where I will be called next but like Jeremiah, His words burn a hole in my heart and I cannot keep still. My focus will always remain fixed, perhaps not on the doctrine of rapture, election, baptism, but on Him crucified, and resurrected on Jesus my sin-bearer and Immanuel my burden-bearer.

Above all, I will remain available and remember, for this. . .  I have Jesus. He brought this nice Jewish girl from New York to seminary that my faith be built on a firm foundation, built not on feelings but on facts.

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