A Useful Exercise
I can’t stop thinking about Philip Yancey’s Soul Survivor, a book I recently finished reading. The book’s subtitle is: How My Faith Survived the Church and his theme, that of all his books, is “of a person who absorbed some of the worst the church has to offer, yet still landed in the loving arms of God.” He uses the thirteen people profiled in this book, individuals he learned from and was challenged by, to answer the question of how and why he didn’t give up on God,
My background was radically different from Yancey’s, not having damaging church experiences to cast off since I was raised in a Reform Jewish family, and by the time I left home, I was open to all kinds of spiritual experiences. I read many books and experimented with different belief systems until I understood that Jesus is ”the way, the truth, and the life.”
While reading about the diverse group of people whom Yancey credits for impacting his life and faith, I began to think about those who made a difference in my life. Interestingly, Yancey’s influences are not even necessarily Christians as he includes Mahatma Gandhi, and while some he met personally, others, such as Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky, he knows through their writings. Even the Christians are from divergent persuasions.
I would like to suggest this as a useful exercise for all of us, and to begin, I’m sharing about two couples who helped me become the person I am today.
I place my parents, Harry and Velma Galblum, at the top of my list. I’m infinitely grateful to come from a loving, stable home, and though my faith in Jesus is one thing we never shared, I inherited many qualities, values, and beliefs from them. Married for sixty-eight years, my parents revealed to me the example of a loving marriage as well as being caring parents and grandparents. Dad and Mom were patterns of tolerance, of generosity, and of hospitality, all life foundations for me. I also acquired from them my enthusiasm for travel, love of nature, and curiosity about the world and people,
Rina and Clifford Jacquith were an American/Canadian couple whom I met in Jerusalem at the beginning of my spiritual journey with the Bible, a formative time in my life. I absorbed from them a passion for God’s Word and the joy of sharing His love with others in a natural way. I learned that to follow Jesus, you don’t have to be religious, and in fact, religion is the opposite of having a relationship with God. Exceptionally hospitable and generous even to dirty hippies, Rina and Clifford, with his thin black tie, modeled a healthy lifestyle in terms of nutrition and exercise which I follow till today.
I believe it’s worthwhile acknowledging those who shaped our lives, and just maybe, God can use us in some way to guide others along their paths. Can you think of anyone who influenced you or someone who might consider you to have played a significant role in their life?