By Jim Jacob
For three months after college, I backpacked alone around Western Europe, staying now and then at Christian youth hostels. I was on a meager budget, and hostels were economical-about $2 or $3 a night. During my stays, I realized that many of the people working at these hostels seemed to exude love and warmth. Although relatively poor and facing other challenges in life, they seemed to be filled with more peace and joy than I had ever experienced – and I was a healthy, aspiring lawyer from a caring Jewish family.
How did these people get that way, and why was I not like that? I was always preoccupied and worried about things not going exactly according to my plans. I longed for the contentment these people had.
Life went on: I began my law career, married my wife, Cathy, and started a family. My spiritual journey continued when Cathy learned of a Messianic synagogue starting in our city – a place where Jews and Gentiles worshipped together. It seemed like a great compromise on a difficult issue for Cathy and me: she was Catholic, I was Jewish, and we had young children. At this point, I had been a lawyer for fourteen years. Lawyers frequently try to settle a dispute by finding common ground that will satisfy both sides-a win-win situation. Messianic Judaism seemed like the perfect solution.
From the moment I walked into my first Messianic gathering, I felt tremendously comfortable. It was as if I had come home. The people were warm, loving, and caring, and had the same peace and joy I had seen in the Christians I had met in Europe. For the first time in my life, I actually looked forward to going to services. There was music, dancing, joy, love, and fellowship – all filled with richness and depth.
At a Friday night service on May 1, 1992, the Messianic rabbi honored Holocaust Remembrance Day. He played a video of Rose Price, a Holocaust survivor with a compelling story of how she received Yeshua as her Messiah after being released from the concentration camps.
After the video, the Messianic rabbi asked if anyone wanted to receive Yeshua into their heart. I raised my hand, thinking, “Of course I want what Rose has. Who wouldn’t?” I silently said a short prayer expressing my desire to know Yeshua as my Messiah. Bolts of lightning did not strike the ground. In fact, nothing seemed to change immediately, but I now know that God heard me.
Since that day, God has radically changed my life, Cathy’s life, and the lives of our children. He has graciously and lovingly continued to refine and purify me, little by little, over the last seventeen years. Am I perfect? By no means! But do I know that I am forgiven? Absolutely! Do I know where to turn in turbulent times and Whom to thank when things go well? Definitely!
Now I understand that Yeshua’s sacrificial death was the final Yom Kippur sacrifice that provided redemption and forgiveness for all people. Whoever finds Him receives an eternal reward – I know I have!