What happened next was one of those defining, eternal moments. I no longer saw the actress on the screen, but Rebekah. She was speaking those words into my heart, and they greatly comforted my tortured and confused soul. Within my heart I said, “I don’t need an Egyptian princess as my wife; I need a shepherd girl.” The next day, I searched for Rebekah in the office of the Lutheran Church of the Incarnation in Poway, California, and asked,
“Will you be my shepherd girl?”
Rebekah (that is the new name God gave her after we met) did not see me as the world saw me. Rebekah did not diagnose me as the world diagnosed me. Rebekah did not see me as the traditional church saw me. Rebekah did not see me as my parents or my first wife, Josephine, saw me. The Lord granted her a vision not of who I was, but of who I would become. Here is what she saw, as expressed in her own words.
She replied, “Yes.”
I said, “I am divorced. I have been in a mental hospital. I don’t have a job. I don’t know what to do next. I am Jewish.”
She replied, “So?!?”
One evening during a telephone conversation with Peter, the Lord gave me a picture of him in my spirit. I saw him standing on the side of a mountain, dressed in a white robe. Part of the robe was draped over one arm, and he was looking out over a great distance. His expression was all knowing and all wise; the wisdom of the ages was written on his countenance. I knew that I was seeing him completed and perfected, as God must see him through the righteousness of Christ. This has been a wonderful blessing in our lives, for I did not see him as ill or incapable in any way, but wonderfully raised up in Christ. This then set him free to go on in the Lord, to grow in Him, and to heal in God’s perfect timing and way.
From time to time the Lord permits Rebekah to look into the heavenlies and see those things that few mortals are privileged to see. One of these rare and sacred moments occurred twenty-seven years after we were married. Since it is directly related to my journey to Israel, I will record it here as published on our web site.
CONNECTED TO MY ROOTS AGAIN
(Written June 5, 2000)
In recent months a number of people have placed items into my hands that are what I would call strictly Jewish. It all started with a tallit, a Jewish prayer shawl. Another friend placed a book by Sid Roth into my hands, which I literally devoured. It is called, They Thought for Themselves. The book is a compilation of ten testimonies by Jewish men and women who recognized and accepted Jesus as their Messiah. Then, I was given a golden bookmarker that had the menorah, the Star of David, and the fish symbol on it. Another person was prompted to give me a book called, The Hem of His Garment, by Dr. John D. Garr. This book explains the prayer shawl in great detail. All of these items reminded me of Israel and my own Jewish roots, which I had acknowledged reluctantly and with much pain and shame thus far.
Since I grew up in war-ravished Germany where the Jews were hauled into concentration camps, to be Jewish was almost a certain death sentence. And when I came to America in 1946, I quickly became aware of the anti-Semitism in this country. It just made sense for a young, sensitive boy of thirteen to go underground with his Jewish heritage. And even now, at the age of sixty-seven, I would never admit I was Jewish. I always said, “I have a Jewish mother.”
Thirty years ago, I had a life-changing, “Road to Damascus” conversion like the apostle Paul, in which Jesus became the Lord and focus of my life. Like the apostle Peter, I was able to say, “Thou, Jesus, are the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” while at the same time, I was ashamed of Jesus, the Jew. By doing so, I cut myself off from my roots, all my ancestors, and a very rich heritage. I also caused much grief to the heart of God as I denied Jesus a second time. How very blind I was. I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, but I rejected Jesus, the Jew.
One day, two visitors came by. They were new faces in my life. Very quickly did they sense my pain and shame in regards to my Jewish roots and offered to pray for me. I gratefully accepted their offer. I was anointed with oil and prayed for with great tenderness and insight. There was no dramatic, immediate breakthrough. I felt loved but did not feel any different; however, my healing would not be far off.
Two days later, our friend Sandy stopped by. She saw Rebekah working in the yard as she drove past. She swung into the driveway to say hello. Before going her way, she came into the house to say “hi.” That’s when God pulled the plug on my painful past. I barely mentioned to Sandy about our visitors, what they had discerned and how they had prayed two days earlier. When I did, Sandy began to weep with great anguish. All the tears of a lifetime I had not been able to cry, she cried for me. That’s the true heart of an intercessor.
Then she said, “Peter, I see four things that are keeping you in chains. I see a spirit of shame, a spirit of offense, a spirit of bitterness, and a spirit of rejection. If you want to, you can let these spirits go now.” By the Grace of God, I was able to do that.
Rebekah was sitting on the couch while this was happening. At the same moment as my enslaving chains dropped to the ground, she saw a sea of Jewish faces, all my ancestors from the beginning of time. They were walking towards me with outstretched, open arms, welcoming me home. They came to embrace and kiss me, and before long I had vanished amongst a sea of my ancestors, all dressed in their black, Jewish garb, with Jesus amongst them in his white garments.
Then, she saw others go off in a different direction to prepare a great feast. It was a very holy moment. She was able to connect to a progression of the vision for the next several days. The prodigal son had come home.
Now I could powerfully feel the difference. What freedom! What joy! I had been able to forgive my tormentors. I had forgiven those who had driven my ancestors and me into hiding and killed many others. I had forgiven those who had rejected me. The bitterness was gone. The shame was gone.
Suddenly, I am able to see how many others reject or are ashamed of their roots. May you be healed as you read this account. May you be able to accept all your ancestors who are waiting to welcome you home. May
you be able to connect with your roots and be healed. That is my prayer. I love you so very much.
And instead of pain, there was compassion for those who live with prejudice and hate in their hearts toward the Jews. A few days later I remembered a painting we had stored under a bed for the past sixteen years. I found it and put it where all our friends and I can see it. It is a painting of Jesus by Beth Sweigard, looking down from the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. Jesus is wearing a tallit. His hand is gently placed on the shoulder of a rabbi who is praying.
I am that rabbi, connected to my Jewish roots once more. I am also that soldier. I am healed. I no longer have a need to reject who I am and who my ancestors are. I no longer have to hide. I have come home.