A moment of madness

B has been helping look after the children of a Jewish family in Budapest. This contact has led to opportunities to share the gospel with several members of the family including D, who is a cantor and leads the singing in the synagogue. Here B tells us about a recent encounter with him.

A year ago, D told me he believed that God only listened to our spoken words. Otherwise, he deduced, we would be in a great deal of trouble with him because of the bad thoughts we all have. The subject came up while I was telling him about the nature of sin and the holiness of God. I agreed that we are in big trouble because our Creator is aware of everything, including our deepest thoughts. I told him that sin tarnishes our lives, and used the analogy of a beautiful wedding dress which is rendered unfit for purpose by even the tiniest spot of dirt or blemish. As fallen creatures with a sinful nature, I explained, we need a Saviour to rescue us from our sins.

When I met him more than six months later, he raised the question again. Does God really hear our silent prayers? And what about our bad thoughts? I pointed him to Psalm 139:4 which states, ‘Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely.’ He nodded in agreement.

Besides being a cantor, D is also a qualified masseur and sometimes he combines this treatment with mind control techniques. He knows what I think about these practices and, as we spoke, he changed the subject and asked me what I thought about Reiki, a Japanese relaxation and healing technique which is administered by laying on hands and is based on the idea that a ‘Universal Life Force Energy’ flows through each of us. Those who practice the technique believe it can produce miraculous results. Reiki practitioners have to channel the help of a ‘spiritual power’ and some believe the power is God. D professes to believe in God so I told him Scripture clearly forbids practices such as Reiki. I also questioned why he wouldn’t trust solely in God’s power, rather than techniques made up by men.

D changed the subject again and, almost whispering, said, ‘The last time I was in the hospital I saw something. I was awake and it wasn’t a dream. I saw myself lying in the bed in the room. I was in an extremely bad condition and unable to get out of the bed, to talk or to even think properly... I heard my mother asking the doctor when I was going to recover from this condition and his answer was: “Never!”’ D wanted to know what the vision meant and whether I thought he was losing his mind.

I suggested that the experience was probably a combination of exhaustion and his fear of being in hospital. Nevertheless, I told him, God might be trying to tell him something through the experience and that he should turn to God with his fears about what he saw. I also warned him that turning to other spiritual powers is a very dangerous thing to do.

Our time together came to an end but I promised that next time I visited I would tell him about an Old Testament Babylonian king who had a vision and went on to experience both judgement and healing from God. Pray that God will turn D’s mind and heart to his Messiah and that he would, like Nebuchadnezzar, come to ‘praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth…’

This article was first published in the Spring Herald 2015

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