Today is a strange day.
First, I had a good prayer time this morning. What prayer time isn’t good? I know, but, sometimes it is just more ‘noticeable’ than others. Then, I saw a fb post directed at me from what I think is a pair of brothers, that basically recalled another post in recent history in which one of them had lodged things about me and Kefa, and Messianic Jews in general, that were very insulting. Last night’s post, some of which I did not read until this morning, was a continuation of a sort, and repetition of the same drivel most people offer as ‘proof’ of why they reject following Yeshua for some other teacher(s). I had decided not to answer the post, knowing that talking to people who think they are intellectually superior is a waste of time, and both these folks come across as very arrogant and snobbish, so I saw no reason to respond still, and went out the door. I have since responded, in spite of the fact that I have lost hope of ever building any true rapport with the pair. I left the house.
But, I was a bit late getting out the door, so I caught one of the later buses. Thankfully, it wasn’t raining this morning, and not too cold. My motorcycle rides of late have been frigid, and I was grateful for the reprieve. Lately, I’ve been cold too much, and certain people won’t let me snuggle for warmth… not even my dogs. 😉
On that later bus, I began reading a book given to me by my friend, Kefa. I jumped to the chapter that was about a movie he and I managed to take in together this weekend. “Operation Finale.” It was very well done, and I guessed pretty accurate. Kefa had read the book, “Mossad,” which tells the story of this film in one of its chapters. It is concerning the arrest and trial of Adolf Eichmann, the ‘architect of the final solution.’
Having studied WWII extensively in grad school, I knew much of this man’s history. But, I’d never read about his arrest and trial, only that it had occurred. As a spy-novel geek, I don’t know why I haven’t read more about the Mossad, and I suppose that’s why Kefa gave me the book some time back. It is from there that Kefa gained his detailed knowledge of events in the film, and that made watching it with him more pleasant. I knew it would.
So, I finished reading that chapter as the bus got closer to downtown. For a while, I just sat and meditated a bit on things. I was reminded of my visit to the holocaust museum in Jerusalem. Particularly of the exhibit of the little boy who would leave the ghetto daily to go and steal bread. I’ve posted on this before, while it was fresh in my mind after returning from Israel, how it reminded me of my mother sending me for snacks as a little boy down to the ‘post office/gas station/grocery store’ in our little town in Georgia. But, I did not go in fear of death, nor in the possibility of failing and my family starving to death. I thought of how I discovered kin in Germany whose names were on the list of the 6,000,000 who perished at Hitler’s hand, while doing my grad school studies. And of finding out that not only was my mother Jewish, but my father was too, with a grandfather named Ya’akov Shuler [Torah Teacher!]. And how all of this probably escaped our knowledge until the 1990’s and beyond, because of the holocaust.
Then, I thought of all the many times that I’ve been rejected simply because I chose to embrace and reveal my Jewishness. By so-called ‘christians’. Even by one friend of 17 years, with whom I shared an apartment. With whom I declared the gospel. And with whom I’d shared the fellowship of Messiah many, many times. And others, who simply turned from me because I revealed I was Jewish. Then I thought how more recently Jews and Messianic Jews have rejected me in a very similar manner. Just because I am Messianic, and yet also because I do not embrace Rabbinic teachings. Specifically, the non-believing Jews reject me because I accept the Name of Yeshua as Messiah. The apparent believing Jews, however, reject me because I say the Name, יהוה , and teach that Yeshua has received that Name, and that the Name above all names is יהוה Yeshua HaMashi’akh [Phil 2:10-11], and thus, the Name, יהוה , should be declared, AS SCRIPTURES INSTRUCT US. And this morning, in praying today’s Tehillah [Psalm], I had read, “K’shimkha, ken tehillateikha”, which is, “As is your Name, so is your praise, IN THE MIDST OF THE WHOLE EARTH!” As I say this prayer each 2nd day of the week [mon], it further compels me to declare His Name as heartily as I praise Him. But, for this, those who say they believe in Yeshua reject me, choosing to follow Rabbis who themselves reject Yeshua. It simply should not be. And, it is not that they simply walk away, either, but that some of them, especially the “Messianic” ones, then turn to run me down publicly and cause OTHERS to hate and reject me.
So, I’ve got all these thoughts rolling around in my mind as the bus ambles on toward my stop. I’m disciplining myself, remembering to pray for our enemies. I’m not in a pity party, but simply praying that I bear up rightly in all these things, and that I can truly be an ambassador for Him. It didn’t help that this weekend I was called an a-hole by a supposed ‘believer,’ simply for stating facts. That, too, went through my mind as I’m striving to obey Messiah who tells me, ‘bless, and do not curse.’ It occurred to me all the many times I do bless. Both formally, and informally. Formally, I bless my wife each week, and my son, at the Sabbath table. I bless our children in the congregation each Shabbat. I bless our whole congregation each Shabbat. I assessed myself this morning, and truly surmised that it has been years, many years, since I have chosen to curse someone. I still hate that I ever did. But I am happy to realize that the habit, the inclination, has left me, simply because of Messiah’s Word. So, my musings twisted and turned. And then, it happened. It’s not the first time, but this time I actually stopped and ‘meditated’ on it a little more, and perhaps really appreciated it for the first time. It’s happened twice before, recently, within the last month or so, when I have caught the later bus.
We got to Walker street in downtown Houston, two stops ahead of my stop, and a slightly older gentleman from behind me joins the crowd that exits the bus there. As he passed by me, he leans down slightly to his left [I always sit in an aisle seat on the left side of the bus], and quietly says, “Blessings to you, my friend.”
It’s not the first time someone has blessed me simply for being Jewish. This man has done it twice before. Within the last few weeks. The very first time it happened to me in similar fashion was actually on the bus, probably about ten years ago. That time, it was a woman sitting behind me. Shortly after I sat down, she leaned forward and put her hand on my shoulder and said, “I just wanted to tell you, ‘G-d bless you.’” And through the years I have been similarly blessed and greeted by non-Jewish believers, most recently here at work by the very kind man who sits across from my corner cubicle. I know why they do it. These are people who have read their bibles, and they know the many passages that say, in both ends of the book, “I will bless those who bless you, and those who curse you, I will curse,” concerning Avraham and his descendants, of whom I am one. I have chosen to wear the traditional kippah for two reasons: to identify with my Jewish brothers, who choose this particular ‘fashion’ in order to wear a priestly head-covering, and to be reminded daily of the crown I hope to receive one day. I wear the titz-tziyot for ONE reason: because G-d said to. But, these two accessories to my wardrobe tell others I am Jewish. And some, very few, choose to bless me for it. I confess, it does cross my mind that they only choose to bless me so that they can receive their subsequent blessing. But, that is enough motivation, I suppose. At least they have chosen to bless me, and not curse me, as so many have. And today, the timing of it was very striking. I did not ask for a blessing. Neither was I complaining, or pitying myself; I merely ‘observed’ the infrequency of being on the receiving end of something I do often, in contrast to how frequently I receive curses of many kinds.
I know that today the man that did this had his own reasons; perhaps he genuinely wants to see the people of G-d, the Jews, blessed. Perhaps he is working up courage to share “Jesus” with me, and laying the groundwork in his own way. [I did consider how no one has ever attempted to share the gospel with me, perceiving me to be Jewish.] Or, perhaps he just wants his blessing. Nonetheless, I received it joyfully this morning. And then, I get settled in at my desk, and I learn that TODAY is the day Adolf Eichmann was sentenced to death. This man embodied the impetus to curse Jews, for a whole nation, and was responsible for killing some of my closer kin, along with many other of our Jewish people. I had watched the movie of Eichmann’s demise just two days ago, with my closest Jewish friend. The friend who comforted me when I melted down at the exhibit of the boy fetching bread. We had discussed it quite at length afterward. And after a weekend of being reminded of those who curse me, I’m again blessed. On this day worthy of remembering. Eight days after my birthday. The overtones of this just keep swelling, but I need to end lunch and get to work again.
“Suffer not your mouth to bring your flesh into guilt…”