25 March 2003
Email: David Benrexi
I grew up in a home where the only time you heard Jesus Christ's name
it was being used as a curse. My parents didn't believe in God. I was about
eight when I found out. I was shocked, because I'd heard about God in Sunday
school, how He created the earth, about Adam and Eve, and Moses and Abraham.
We were Jewish and living in New Jersey, and every Sunday morning we'd
take a little ride to Temple where my brother Gary, who was a year older,
and I were dropped off to learn about Judaism. It was pretty interesting
actually. Isaac's miraculous birth. Jacob conning Esau out of the birthright
and the blessing. Joseph's coat of many colors. Moses parting the Red Sea.
The ten commandments. David and Goliath. Good stuff.
But my mother told me she didn't believe in God and neither did my father.
I was confused. I knew we weren't Christians, and didn't believe in worshiping
a baby, that God was not a human, but hearing he really didn't exist disturbed
me. I didn't know what to believe anymore. It was no big deal to my parents.
They continued to take me to Sunday School at Temple Sinai where I learned
about the bible and the history of the Jews, God's chosen people. I was
Bar Mitzvahed, reading Hebrew without the vowels from the Torah and delivering
a sermon to the congregation at the tender age of thirteen.
All through high school I continued to participate in Jewish activities
and associate with the Jewish kids. Around the age of sixteen I began to
think my parents were right. In the mid-60's there was a glamor attached
to being an aetheist or an agnostic. I played that game for the next three
years, all through high school and my first year of college. Midway through
my sophomore year I returned home after final exams and soon realized my
parents had some bad news. They told me my best friend Bob had been shot
in the head in Viet Nam, that he was in a coma and not expected to live.
I was upset and angry when they told me it had happened almost a week earlier.
They had refrained from telling me because they didn't want to distract
me during final exams.
The last time I had seen Bobby, he had visited me at Penn State after
doing a tour of duty in Viet Nam. My brother Gary had recently enlisted
and been sent there, so Bobby decided to go back, although he could have
elected to finish his tour elsewhere. We had a great time during his visit,
and he was definitely my closest friend, which was odd, since for most
of my childhood we competed against each other in almost everything and
often wound up throwing nasty words at each other, and fists. Bobby was
Irish-Italian and Catholic. I was Russian-Austrian and Jewish. But we were
very much alike in that whatever the game was, we went all out to win.
I remember the feeling of hopelessness after being told my best friend
was going to die. I shut myself up in my room, angry that my parents hadn't
told me sooner. I began crying out to a God whose existence I had denied,
and whose Son I had made jokes about. I said: "If you really exist, don't
let my friend die, and I'll never deny your existence again."
I honestly figured it wouldn't do any good, because I didn't believe
He did exist, but I was desperate, and didn't know what else to do. Bobby
was lying unconscious on a ship near Japan, I was told, and a few days
later, we found out that he had regained consciousness, but was paralyzed
down the left side of his body. I was ecstatic. About a month later he
arrived at his home in New Jersey and I ditched school for almost a week
to go visit him. He had a huge dent in his skull and almost no motion on
the left side of his body which was particularly difficult since he was
left-handed. Over the next several months, he had surgery to close the
hole in his head and began therapy to regain some motion on his left side.
Eventually he was able to care for himself, drive a car, and start college.
We became even closer friends, and he was the man that introduced me to
my wife, for which I am eternally thankful.
That was the end of denying God's existence, but it also marked a new
beginning into deeper levels of sin than I'd ever known. It was through
my friend Bobby that I became involved with the pursuit of musical stardom
and the lifestyle of "love and peace" which really meant sex and drugs.
All this time, I felt I was developing a relationship with God, Who I credited
with saving my friend's life. It would be eleven years later that I got
off that road that leads to death to fully embrace the loving God Who had
spared my friend's life so graciously.
So as a young man, I thought I could reason with God, and make a deal
like I did. In other words, for me to get anything from God, I had to be
willing to do something or give up something. I believed His gifts had
strings attached. In our next My Daddy Loves Me Newsletter, I'll share
the other deal I made with God based on ignorance, and how God came through
for me again.
Do you ever think God's holding out on you, and you need to do something
to get what you want from Him? I wish I had known Him sooner. That I know
Him at all is a miracle. I'm so glad He reached out His hand to me:
The first time that I saw You/ I truly was amazed/ You reached out
Your hand/ And I beheld Your face/ And ever since that day/ I knew You
were my friend/ I knew I had to be with You/ When You reached out Your
Draw me into Your presence LORD/ Draw me LORD to Your throne/ Draw
me into Your holiness/ To worship You alone
I will be with You forever/ Throughout all eternity/ My love for
You will never end/ And neither will Your love for me
This song can be heard at our web-page:
It is track #9 on 'Pink or Blue?'