Three's No Crowd

I did not become aware of my mother’s Jewish roots until I was an adult. I cannot recall ever discussing family customs, festivals or matters of faith at all while I was growing up. My religious education was left to the various state schools I attended and centred mainly on God in the Old Testament and the stories about creation, Moses and the Ten Commandments, the Psalms, David and Goliath and, of course, learning the Lord’s Prayer. Apart from the seasonal Christmas and Easter stories I have no remembrance of any significant New Testament teaching.

My maternal grandmother was born to Polish immigrants living in London. My mother’s father was born in Lithuania but as a youth fled to London following the Russian revolution, where he settled working as a marine engineer. Following their marriage, my grandparents lived in Bethnal Green where they raised a family of two daughters and three sons, and at some point the family name Jakubinski was shortened to Jakubait. On leaving school, my mother and her sister worked as milliners in the East End of London.

My father’s family were British, possibly with Welsh connections, and my father served as an accountant with the Admiralty in Singapore and Burma during the Second World War. My parents separated when I was about six years old and my mother took me to live in another part of the country, after which I lost contact not only with my father but also with both sets of grandparents and my wider family. I never saw my father’s parents again, but one of my most treasured possessions is a copy of the Holy Bible they gave me with a hand-written inscription inside.

Three felt like a crowd

My belief in God took a step forward just before I got married. Perceiving that either Liz nor I were especially religious, her parish priest suggested that when we were married we say the Lord’s Prayer together each night. I endeavoured to keep to his advice and during our early years I found the words “Our Father, who art in heaven” increasingly both a challenge and comfort. They became the basis on which my faith in God was founded and grew. Some years later, following a time of sadness for Liz, a friend invited her to a discussion group led by a new church minister where Liz became a Christian. This wasn’t a problem to me initially because her conversion seemed to help her. I wanted to know about her new belief and she was pleased to discuss it with me because she was sure I would understand. It wasn’t long however, before a void opened up between us with Liz and her new faith in the “triune nature of God as revealed in the New Testament” on one side, and me with my resolute belief in the “one true God of the Old Testament” on the other. Despite numerous questions and answers and passionate discussions, often long into the night, our differences remained. This created enormous pressure on our marriage but I could not abandon my belief in “God” in favour of Jesus, someone I neither understood nor felt I had any need for. However, Liz and the kids started attending the local church regularly and although my beliefs remained unchanged, I would go to some social functions and occasional services at Easter and Christmas. I enjoyed catching up with neighbours and making new friends, and after a while I began attending a weekly Bible study with Liz. I really enjoyed the studies and although we studied Jesus and the New Testament I always checked out the Old Testament references in the footer of my Bible. I believed God was giving me understanding and insight but I did not see that this had anything to do with Jesus or the Holy Spirit. Why did I need to have a relationship with His Son when I already had one with the Father?

Father and Son

My struggles with Liz continued until our sons’ Scout master became a Christian and we were invited to his baptism. The sermon was based on the New Testament story of blind Bartimaeus, who, when told that Jesus was passing by, shouted out in desperation “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me”. The pastor made the point that, whatever our problems were, all we had to do was ask Jesus for help. This prompted me to realise that I too was desperate and needed Jesus to break the ice of my hardened heart. So, at the end of the service I went forward for prayer to ask Jesus to help me get to know Him, which He did and is still doing to this day. Turning to God through Jesus, via the Holy Spirit was the point at which true understanding of God and his ways began. It didn’t all happen in a flash but, over a period of years, I came to understand the Trinity. Today, God the Holy Spirit is working in me and encouraging me to continue looking to Jesus, God the Son, for help and refinement. Jesus is not only my Mediator and Friend, he also provides the only means by which I can come into God the Father’s presence – the shedding of his own precious, holy blood at Calvary’s Cross with his righteousness providing a covering for my sin. God longs for all the Jewish people to return to him. In Zechariah 1:3, he says to Israel: "Return to Me…and I will return to you." In Nehemiah 1:9, he assures Israel: “…if you return to Me, and keep My commandments and do them, though some of you were cast out to the farthest part of the heavens, yet I will gather them from there, and bring them to the place which I have chosen as a dwelling for My name.” In Jeremiah 24:7, he promises the Jewish people: “I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the LORD; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God, for they shall return to Me with their whole heart.” Before Jesus, the Holy Spirit worked through specific people and spiritual contact with the Lord was through the prophets and the priests. Since Pentecost, when God’s Spirit was poured out on “all flesh”, all may come back to God through Jesus, who said, “No one comes to the Father except through Me”.


Trevor Timms

This article first appeared in the Sept-Nov 2009 issues of the Herald

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