Thursday, March 3, 2011

My Story – Part 3

My anonymous respondent queried, “If you had visited a Baha'i, Jewish, Islamic, or any other study group, do you believe you would have not found the same benefits? If so,why?”

I did try a number of religions. Firstly Judaism! I was a committed Zionist and lived in Israel for two years. This is where my search for God began in earnestness. Psychotherapy had utterly failed me. Meditation never worked for me. I didn’t see any other self-help viable possibilities on the horizon. That left God. Whenever I heard about a Jew who had a relationship with God, I pursued them with a series of questions. Finally, one friend suggested that I go stay at Kfar Chabod (Lubavitcher Hasidism). I stayed with them for a week, asking my array of questions, but never receiving satisfying answers.

One evening, a young American Jewish man approached me, “Daniel, last year, I was right where you are now. But there’s a Tzaddik (the highest of the rabbis) in Tel Aviv, who can demonstrate to you, beyond a doubt, that the Tanach (the Hebrew Scriptures) is the Word of God!”

The next evening, we were in Tel Aviv, where my friend had arranged a private consultation with the Tzaddik. At first, he studied me intently with his serious, penetrating, deeply set eyes. Then, he began shacking his head in the wrong direction: “You are not ready to study Torah. There is too much confusion and tension in your life. Go find yourself a good Jewish community to live in. Follow their program and come back in a few months, and we’ll talk again.”

“Talk?” I hadn’t even opened my mouth up, and he had already pronounced judgment! Essentially, he was saying that I had to first get my life together before God could be of any use to me. But this was why I had come to him! I couldn’t get my life together! God seemed to be my only hope, but the Tzaddik was telling me that God couldn’t help me unless I first helped myself. I left feeling rejected by life itself. However, in my heart-of-hearts, I knew he was right. Somehow I was a looser.

What a contrast with the God of Scripture who has proved His words to me:

• Matthew 11:28-30 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.

I’ve subsequently learned that our weaknesses, sins, traumas and failures are nothing to Him. He is the God who brought Israel out of Egypt with His irresistible plagues; He brought them through the sea and established them in their own land. Yes, they were dispersed on three occasions, but each time, He brought them back and reestablished them in their own land.

He is without limitation. He works “all things together for good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28). There was a zero expectation for recovering from depression. It had been part of me, almost from the get-go. It had become my thinking and perceiving. It colored everything I did and sired other monstrosities – anxiety, shame, and panic-attacks. However, my God used these things for good, finally even to dispatch them into nether-land and beyond.

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