I would like to start with Psalm 40: "I waited patiently for the
Lord; And He inclined to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out
of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay; And He set my feet upon
a Rock making my footsteps firm. And He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God; Many will see and fear, And will trust in
the Lord" (Ps. 40:1-3)
is the Valentine brunch, a time when we think of romantic love. If
my testimony has any theme, it would have to be love--false love, worldly
love, motherly love, and, ultimately, true love, God's love. I can
think of no better time to talk about the superiority of God's love than
As many of you know, I gave my testimony at a Bible Study brunch eight
years ago. God has taught me a lot in the past eight years, so I
trust I won't be boring any of you who have already heard me speak.
In fact, I'd like to speak mostly about what He has taught me recently,
so I'll try to be as brief as possible in bringing the rest of you up to
date on who I am, where I come from, and how God brought me here.
I grew up in Seattle, Washington, in a conservative Jewish family.
I was raised according to the traditions and customs of Judaism; but since
my parents did not believe in God, our Jewishness was really only a cultural
tradition to us. It was an extremely important part of my family's
life, but it held no spiritual significance, either for my parents or for
myself. In fact, by the time I reached high school, I had pretty
much rejected Judaism and all other religions. I believed science
could answer all of man's questions, and thought only the ignorant needed
Growing up as a rebellious but academically inclined teenager in the sixties,
I did not remain in that state long. I attended a college in Portland,
Oregon, which had a reputation as being "a hotbed of beatniks and communists",
and I soon began experimenting with drugs. By the middle of my second
year in college I had frequently taken LSD, shot methedrine, and was smoking
marijuana daily. Formal education no longer held any meaning for
me, so I decided to follow Timothy Leary's advice; I had already "turned
on and tuned in", it was time to "drop out".
I spent the next year in the San Francisco bay area with my boyfriend,
living the life of a flower child, making and selling jewelry, dealing
drugs, and staying stoned as much as possible. It was 1967, the infamous
"summer of love", and according to the Beatles, love was all we needed.
at this time that my spiritual life took a turn for the better. I
say the better, because up until then, I did not believe either in God
or in the supernatural. But LSD has the effect of making you aware
of the supernatural, because you experience it firsthand. I did not
yet believe in God, but I knew that there was more to life than what I
could experience with my five senses. I knew the spirit world existed,
and I spent the next ten years exploring it, using drugs, eastern religions,
and even science.
My boyfriend and I had decided to return to college, since we recognized
we needed more education if we were to be able to get jobs we could stand
working at. We eventually ended up at the University of Oregon in
Eugene, where we also decided to get married. There was a brief side
trip to jail, as we were arrested for growing marijuana in our basement;
but that did not interfere with our college plans.
My purpose in going back to college was to create a new a drug, one which
would make people love each other. One of the major effects of LSD
is to make you feel love and acceptance for everyone, and it seemed to
me that was what the world needed if we were ever to overcome the problems
of intolerance, greed, war, and environmental destruction which I believed
were destroying the planet. The problem with LSD was that its effects
were temporary--the feelings of love passed away as the drug wore off.
What I wanted was to synthesize a drug whose effects were permanent, one
that would cause all people to love each other without reserve.
So I went back to college to study biology and chemistry, with "love" as
my goal. By the time I got my degree, however, I recognized the impracticality
of my plans. Even if I could create such a drug, I could never get
everyone in the world to take it, so I abandoned that dream and turned
instead toward studying the neurobiological basis of the psychedelic experience.
I came to Cornell in 1971, as a graduate student in neurobiology, with
the intention of proving to the scientific community that the altered state
of consciousness induced by drugs like LSD, as well as by such techniques
as sensory deprivation, transcendental meditation, yoga, and prolonged
fasting, was not only a valid psychological experience but was in fact
superior to normal conscious functioning.
My religious orientation as I entered Cornell graduate school was firmly
eastern. I believed in meditation and yoga, as well as drug use,
to produce the mental state which I considered essential for ultimate union
with what I envisioned God to be, which was an impersonal Cosmic Consciousness.
I believed that all religions were merely different paths to this same
state and that ultimately, after many turns at reincarnation, everyone
would someday achieve this union with godhood.
Fortunately, the lab technician in the vet school lab where I did my research
had other ideas, and she didn't keep them to herself. Evelyn was
extroverted and talkative, and was so excited by events then occurring
in the middle east that she talked to me constantly about the fulfillment
of Bible prophecy. This was 1973, the time of the Yom Kippur War
in Israel, and since she knew I was Jewish, she thought I would be interested
in hearing about the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy, which I was.
Since I believed all religions to be true, I found no fault in what she
said and, in fact, found it convincing and intriguing.
Up until that point, although I had studied world religions in college
and as a hobby, I had never read the New Testament. For some reason,
which I'm sure Satan has a lot to do with, it's very difficult for many
Jewish people to read the New Testament, even out of intellectual curiosity.
But as I embarked on a summer with my husband and year-old son, doing research
in the middle of the southeast Texas woods, Evelyn gave me a copy the New
Testament to take with me; and when I finished reading my carton of science
fiction novels, I decided to read the Bible.
The Holy Spirit was with me as I read God's Word, and although I did not
even know He existed, He opened my eyes and my heart to God's truth.
I saw that Y'shua clearly stated He was the only way to God, and that did
not allow for many paths. Either I was wrong or Evelyn was wrong,
and God revealed to me as I read His Word that I had been wrong--Y'shua
was the Messiah of Israel, and the only way to salvation.
It took another year for God to fully reach me. Although I knew intellectually
that Y'shua was the only way to God, I still did not see my need of a Savior.
I was still involved in the sixties mentality of "If it feels good, and
it doesn't hurt anyone, do it". I did my best to live by that motto,
and believed I succeeded pretty well, so I did not see myself as a sinner;
and until I did, I could not see my need of salvation.
So during the following year God allowed me to get involved in undeniable
sin. I was living on a communal farm with several other science grad
students, one of whom, Rick, I had been having an affair with. Rick
was not a believer either at that time, and my husband said he didn't mind,
so I rationalized my behavior as polygamy, a very Biblical practice.
But I had become pregnant, and not knowing who the father was, I felt I
had to have an abortion. My marriage was falling apart anyway, and
my husband, being a radical ecologist, felt it was immoral to have more
than one child; so abortion seemed the only way out.
By this point I had realized that I was indeed a sinner in need of salvation.
Although I had no intellectual objections to abortion at that time, I knew
that if I became a Christian, I could not go ahead with it. Since
I felt my future depended on having the abortion, I decided to go ahead
with it and then give my life to God afterwards.
The spiritual turmoil which followed the abortion was devastating.
A frightening supernatural encounter that night, while I was stoned, convinced
me that God had abandoned me, so I decided to abandon Him. For several
months I tried to forget about Y'shua and continue my life as a graduate
But as Francis Thompson says in his poem, "The Hound of Heaven", God pursues
those He chooses, and He pursued me relentlessly. Though "I fled
Him down the nights and down the days; I fled Him down the arches of the
years; I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways of my own mind; and in the
mist of tears I hid from Him," still He pursued me and called out, "Ah,
fondest, blindest, weakest, I am He Whom thou seekest! Thou (drove out)
love from thee, who (drove out) Me".
One day, while riding the campus bus, God gave me a mental picture of my
life as a bus route, one that had crossed His route and was now traveling
away from Him. I saw that if I continued on my current route, I would
lose sight of Him forever. I realized I needed to change direction,
and soon; so I went to Bob, a Christian I knew in the Veterinary College,
and asked him how I could become a Christian.
With my background in Judaism and Eastern religions, I had no idea what
faith meant. I was educated in traditions and techniques, but I had
no idea how to simply talk to God. To me, prayer was the recitation
of a memorized formula, not an intimate conversation with my Maker.
Moreover, in both Judaism and Eastern religions, our ultimate destiny depends
on what we have done in our lives. I knew from reading the Bible
that Christianity was not like this, that it was simply a matter of faith.
But I did not know how to have faith. I knew that Y'shua was the
Messiah, but I did not know how to make Him my Messiah.
Bob explained to me my need to confess my sin before God, to accept Y'shua'
blood shed on the cross as payment for my sin, and to ask Him to come into
my life as Savior and Lord. Then he prayed with me as I turned my life
over to God; and there in the Veterinary College of Cornell University,
I was born into the family of God.
One of the first changes that took place in my life was in my attitude
toward my childhood religion--Judaism. It now took on new meaning
for me, as I realized the Old Testament was not just a bunch of stories,
but was the actual history of my people. No longer was my Jewish
background a dead relic, an archaic expression of an abandoned belief.
It had become vital and important, for it was God's gift to me. Through
no merit of my own, He had chosen me to be part of His ancient people,
and all the glories and failings of the Old Testament story were part of
my heritage. Although I had not known Him as a child, I had finally
come home to the God of my childhood and the faith of my fathers.
I also realized that my research with psychedelic drugs, both at Cornell
and at home, was dishonoring to God. The true danger of drug use
is not in its physical or emotional effects, real though those may be;
but in the spiritual state into which it puts the user. That state,
which I had been studying and even glorifying in my research, was actually
a dangerous opening of one's defenses to spiritual invasion. The
supernatural is always there, all around us, but God in His wisdom has
designed us so that we cannot perceive it. Any attempt to do so is
fraught with danger, because we are ill equipped to handle direct Satanic
attack. It is for our protection that we normally see neither angels
nor demons, and when we use mind-altering drugs, that is what we are opening
ourselves up to. With all my defenses and arguments, God had to show
me this directly through another frightening encounter while I was stoned,
before I would give up the carnal pleasure of drugs and abandon my graduate
Since that experience, over twenty years ago, I have had no desire to smoke
marijuana or use any other mind-altering drug, despite my previous ten
years of daily marijuana use. God removed the desire entirely, and
replaced it with a longing to know Him better and tell others about His
love for them.
Towards that end, my husband and I joined B'rit Olam Fellowship, a Messianic
Jewish group, which we led in our home for several years. And for
the past several years I have been a Co-Laborer in Messiah, a part-time
volunteer missionary with Jews for Jesus, the international Jewish missions
organization whose goal is to spread the message that Y'shua, Jesus, is
the Messiah of Israel, and that everyone, whether Jew or Gentile, needs
to have a personal relationship with Him. If any of you want any
information about Jewish evangelism, you can ask me anytime.
Since I had realized my research at Cornell was not in God's will, I decided
to leave graduate school. By that time my first marriage had ended,
so Rick and I got married, and I decided to stay home, spend my time writing,
which I preferred to biology anyway, and be a full-time mother to my son,
Loden, who was then five years old and suffered from attention deficit
hyperactive disorder (ADHD).
127 says, "Children are a gift of the Lord; happy is the man whose quiver
is full of them" (Ps 127:3-5). God has used my children to teach
me much about Himself, and I am eternally grateful to Him, although the
lessons have not been easy.
When I last gave my testimony, its theme was God's sovereignty. Throughout
all the follies of my youth, God had protected me from harm and brought
me to Himself.
When my first child, Loden, was sixteen, he broke my heart. Despite
a genius level IQ, he dropped out of tenth grade, started using drugs,
left home, lived on the streets and ate out of garbage dumpsters, hitchhiked
around the country, and ended up in jail several times. During this
time my faith was severely tested, as I cried out to God to end the pain
and rescue my son.
I would like to be able to say that my church family stood behind me at
this time, but that would not be entirely true. Some of my Christian
friends chided me for being depressed, questioning my faith; they quoted
Bible verses which talked of God's being in control and working all things
for good, but such reminders only made me feel worse. It's not that
I did not know or believe God's word, but a grieving person needs time
to grieve. The Bible also says, "Weep with those who weep" (Rom.
12:15); we seem to have little trouble "rejoicing with those who rejoice",
but we should also remember that Psalm 30 says, before "joy comes in the
morning", sorrow must first "endure for a night" (Ps. 30:5).
God Himself brought me through that time of mourning by revealing to me
His sovereign hand. As I was writing out my testimony for that Bible
study brunch eight years ago, I suddenly realized that everything my son
was going through, I had gone through before. I, too, had dropped
out of school, although it was college and not high school; I had panhandled
money for food, had hitchhiked up and down the west coast, had lived with
my boyfriend unmarried, had smoked pot for ten years, and had even ended
up in jail; and worse than my son, I had even committed adultery and the
murder of my unborn child. Yet God had brought me through all that,
and had brought me to Himself. If He could save me, He could surely
save my son.
God restored my joy as He revealed His sovereignty to me through these
experiences. I still ache for my son, who remains in spiritual darkness
even today; but I know that God is in control, and is using these experiences
teach me patience and love.
have another child almost through her teenage years, and God has used her
life to teach me more about Himself. As Loden's life has taught me
of God's sovereignty, Rachel's life has taught me of His faithfulness.
As some of you know, I have been attending Ithaca Women's Bible Study for
about ten years. I did not attend last year, and this is why.
Two years ago, when we used to have group prayer at Bible Study, I asked
for prayer for Rachel, who at that time was in eleventh grade at Ithaca
High School. She was making some terribly destructive choices in
her life, and was headed for disaster. I won't go into the details,
but suffice it to say that she was involved in things that would have destroyed
her life, had she continued on the path she was on. She was immersed
in emotional depression, spiritual confusion, and relational despair.
Many of you prayed for her at that time, and I want to thank you and share
with you how God answered those prayers.
I did not attend Bible Study last year because a week before the beginning
of her senior year, Rachel decided she wanted to be home schooled.
She had finally realized how her friends were influencing her for evil,
and she decided she would rather have no friends than ones who would only
bring her down. So I stayed home with her and taught her for her
senior year, and I can honestly say it was the best year of my life.
I missed being at Bible Study, but I know I was in the center of God's
Although she would not let me introduce her at the time, Rachel was my
guest at the Christmas Bible study brunch. She was home for Christmas
break from the Christian college she now attends in Florida, where she
has good Christian friends, among them one of Billy Graham's grandsons.
She is growing daily in her spiritual walk, and wants only to do what God
wants her to do. I continue to be overwhelmed by God's faithfulness,
as He has kept His word and brought her into His will. Through the
long nights, as I was torn apart by tears and sobbing over Rachel's condition,
I was assured of God's sovereignty because of what He had taught me in
Loden's life. But He did not leave it at that. He did not leave
me waiting long, struggling with uncertainty, but was faithful to renew
Rachel's faith in Him, and to lift her up "out of the miry clay".
(Note: Rachel is now married to a wonderful Christian man and, along
with him, is living in a Christian commune where they serve God full time
in outreach to the needy.)
Not only did He rescue Rachel from the disastrous life she was running
towards, He also gave me one of the greatest gifts a mother could receive:
a year at home with my teenage daughter, being not only her mother and
teacher, but also her best friend. As she now embarks on a new phase
of her life, separate and independent, I have the past year to look back
on and treasure as one of the sweetest gifts of love I could ever have
I have another child, so I expect you'll be hearing from me again, in another
five or ten years. I have no idea what God will teach me through
Sarah's life, but judging by the powerful lessons He's shown me with my
first two children, I can only look forward with awe and anticipation to
what He has in store for me as Sarah navigates her teenage years. I don't
expect it to be pleasant, but I do know that God will use it to teach me
to know Him more deeply, and I can only thank and praise Him for caring
so much about each one of us that He fashions individual lessons, perfectly
designed to fit each of our needs, so that we can grow to know Him better
and love Him more.
40 again comes to my mind: "Sacrifice and meal offering Thou hast
not desired; My ears Thou hast opened; Burnt offering and sin offering
Thou hast not required. Then I said, 'Behold, I come; In the scroll
of the book it is written of me; I delight to do Thy will, O my God; Thy
law is within my heart" (Ps. 40:6-8)
As we think of love at Valentine's Day, I can truly say God has taken me
on a journey of love, and though I began with a false love, He has shown
me true love.
Do you remember that wonder drug I wanted so desperately to create, so
that everyone would love each other? I now know that only God can
change a person's heart from self-centeredness to concern for others, only
God can replace a human heart of stone with His heart of love. God's
love is real and eternal, not fading away as a drug disperses from our
bloodstreams. Yes, my dream of a love that would save mankind was
correct, for only love can save mankind; but that love will not come out
of a chemist's test tube, it must be a direct transfusion from God.
For as the Bible says, "love is from God, and everyone who loves is born
of God and knows God...for God is love" (1 John 4:7-8).
finally, again from Psalm 40: "I have proclaimed glad tidings of
righteousness in the great congregation; Behold, I will not restrain my
lips, O Lord, Thou knowest. I have not hidden Thy righteousness within
my heart; I have spoken of Thy faithfulness and Thy salvation; I have not
concealed Thy lovingkindness and Thy truth from the great congregation"