I am a Holocaust survivor. It is the atrocities of a ruthless dictator that caused me and my family to adopt America as our new homeland. For many years after coming to America I lived with many unanswered questions concerning the atrocities of dictators, religious demagogues and ruthless tyrants who rule over their subjects like they were chattel.
Whenever anyone added their own prejudice to my unforgiving heart, I felt justified staying angry and unforgiving. I also added my own pain and prejudices to the hearts and voices of others. For many years I silently shouldered the shame, pain, and anger of being part of a despised minority. I went into hiding the moment a fellow worker remarked, “Peter, we have a great department, there is not one Jew in it.” It happened on my first job after graduating from college. But why would a loving God permit such atrocities in the first place I asked myself? By asking such a question I was unaware that I was accusing God. I did not realize that I had given place in my heart to the devil, who is also called the accuser of the brethren.
Last week Jesus healed me. He let me know that my anger was not pleasing to Him and was accomplishing nothing. Jesus visited me with His grace which helped me to identify ungodly anger and repent. He delivered me from confusing, accusing, and tormenting spirits. He healed me of prejudices that had separated me from my Father-God and his forever family. The prejudices that had alienated me from those who did not believe what or how I believe were gone – all gone in the twinkling of an eye. What grace! It was truly a miracle. I noticed that those who did not worship or celebrate Jesus, the Son of God, in the manner I did were no longer strangers. I never felt so light, so free, and so grateful. I never realized that anger and unforgiveness had prematurely bowed my shoulders, slowed my steps, aged my face and opened the door to excruciating pain, both physical and emotional.
God sent a spiritual bulldozer into my heart and excavated it. Having all that anger and unforgiveness excavated from my soul was exceedingly painful. Like a skilled dentist, the Divine Surgeon removed all the decay before filling the cavity with Himself. However, unlike a dentist, my Lord and Healer did not give me a shot of Novocain to deaden the pain. And why not? Like King David, I had to be shown the dire consequences of sinning to know the fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord is now my internal “Stop Sign.” Yes, sin does cause our souls to decay.
How marvelous, in the place of prejudice there is now more room for the heart of Jesus – lots more! The heart of Jesus is an ocean of mercy that can now flood other souls through mine. We become portals of healing for others the moment we ourselves are healed. Believe me reader, without the grace of God I would either be in a straight jacket, a jail or in a coffin. Lord, I thank you for the ocean of mercy that has flooded my soul. I shall brag about your mercy everywhere I go from now on and begin by writing these words.
There is something quite unique and specific that triggered this transformation. It happened on Tuesday afternoon, December 21, 2010 at the home of my friend Eliot who lives in Farmington, New Mexico. I was trying to take a nap in preparation for a time of fellowship at the City of Refuge/House of Prayer. When I was unable to fall asleep, I reached for that sure fire remedy – reading a few paragraphs in a book that was handy. I could read for five or ten minutes and then I would doze off. The Bible was next to my nightstand. I reached for it and opened it at random. It opened to the Book of Ezekiel, chapter 5. As I began to read, instead of falling asleep, I became more and more alert, awake and interested in the subject:
“Son of Dust, take a sharp sword and use it as a barber’s razor to shave your head and beard; use balances to weigh the hair into three equal parts. Place a third of it at the center of your map of Jerusalem. After your siege, burn it there. Scatter another third across your map and slash at it with a knife. Scatter the last third to the wind, for I will chase my people with the sword. Keep just a bit of the hair and tie it up in your robe; then take a few hairs out and throw them into the fire, for a fire shall come from this remnant and destroy all Israel.”
The Lord God says, “This illustrates what will happen to Jerusalem, for she has turned away from my laws and has been even more wicked than the nations surrounding her,” Therefore the Lord, God says, “I, even I, am against you and will punish you publicly while all the nations watch. Because of the terrible sins you have committed, I will punish you more terribly than I have even done before or will ever do again. Fathers will eat their own sons, and sons will eat their fathers; and those who survive will be scattered into all the world.” Ezekiel 5:1-10.
As I read the words “scattered into all the world,” the Holy Spirit revealed to me that the scattering of the Jews into all the world was a part of the fulfillment of prophecy and also God’s judgment. The judgment that I had pronounced in my heart over tyrants, both religious and otherwise, was removed from my heart. I heard these words in my spirit, “Peter, do not judge except your own heart. Whenever you judge you make yourself into a little god. Judging and justice is My prerogative. If you want to live, forgive. Ask my Son to help you and He will.”
Thanks be to God because I was able to apprehend what God showed and told me. Because of the grace and mercy of God, I was able to repent and also forgive at a far deeper level than ever dreamt possible or necessary. There is now room in my heart for those “despised minorities” both large and small. I felt as light as a feather and still do. Now, as I am penning these words for you and others, I am fulfilling my high calling of “The Lord’s Scribe and Storyteller” in earnest.
The Miracle Unfolds and Continues
As you, the reader might have noticed, I had never been able to forgive and embrace the Catholic world with all my heart until I had read Ezekiel, chapter 5. Although the Catholic Church is not proud of persecuting the Jews during the Inquisition, God allowed these atrocities. I am sure that Germany would prefer to have its shameful conduct towards the Jews erased from every history book. And one day, the Muslim world will weep over every drop of innocent blood it spilled. But again, God allowed these evil deeds. He does have everything under control! Who are we to find fault with our Creator God and demand that He explain his actions to us? The prophets of old predicted what would happen if the Jews defiled the Tabernacle of God and worshiped idols. That in itself must be and should be enough to silence our accusing hearts.
My prejudice, anger and confusion was very deep and mostly unspoken but not unnoticed by those who had eyes to see and hearts to feel. The Holy Spirit used the lives of two hidden nuns to help me become acquainted with a world that had been hidden and off limits to me because of my prejudice. Let me explain: For the past year, every morning and evening Rebekah, my handmaiden, read to me out of two books which helped me to not only get acquainted, but fall in love with the saints the Catholic Church honors. Their lives and books have helped me to know the heart of Jesus and honor Mary, the mother of God. One of these books, “The Way of Divine Love” by Josefa Menéndez was waiting on our bookshelf for nearly forty years before we discovered it and took it off our book shelf. God’s timing is and will always be perfect.
We cannot expect the support or love of anyone we despise, judge or accuse, God included. Our spoken and unspoken prejudices alienate us from others and make us prisoners until we forgive.
Take a look at the covers of the two books Rebekah is reading to me just now and examine your inner response. You will quickly be shown if you need to read them. If you are reluctant to read them, read them anyway. Do not delay or offer excuses. Your inner world and the world around you will never be the same. There is an awesome gift waiting for every person who reverently and unhurriedly reads the diaries of Josefa Menéndez and Saint Faustina Kowalska. Both of these hidden and unheralded saints died at the age of 33. Their work was done. Some of us are slow learners. This scribe is nearing his eighties.
These books can change the course of a life, a clan, even the course of a whole nation. The wars in us and all around us will end when prejudice is given the left foot of fellowship; then and only then will there be room for the Son of God and an ocean of mercy in our lives. Please help me spread this message.