Shalom Means Peace

Written by M. Larson

Story told by Candy, written by Dr. Muriel Larson

shalom“We’re going to take you to a psychiatrist,” my parents told me. “Maybe he can help you.”

“But everyone will think I’m crazy,” I protested.

“Well, we’ve got to do something, honey,” my dad said. “We’ve tried everything else.”

I had always been nervous. When I was small, my parents took me to a child psychologist. Later, when I was in my early teens, they took me to a hypno-therapist. More recently, Daddy had put me on medication to help my nerves, but nothing really helped.

I always had felt lonely and unhappy. Sometimes I felt as though I were living in hell. I never got a full night’s sleep and often had awful nightmares. I thought of killing myself, but was afraid of death.

How I longed to talk more to my parents about my awful depression! But they both were busy with their professions. A series of housekeepers cared for my two older sisters and me as we grew up. Not until Eleanor came along, when I was 13, did I find someone to whom I could talk.

Someone to care

Eleanor Stoppe was the new housekeeper. And she was different! She always bubbled. After a while I went to her with my problems. Sometimes she invited my sisters and me to her house to eat. What a warm, pleasant place it was! I always felt tense at our house, but at Eleanor’s I felt at ease.

When I was 16, Eleanor took me to a Christian youth rally. A line in a song, “Lord, make me whole,” made a special impression on me. Was being “whole” that which made the difference between Eleanor and me and our families?

My parents are Jewish, but, like many Jews, they were agnostics. They went to the synagogue only two or three times a year. But they made certain my sisters and I went for religious training every Saturday at the Reformed Synagogue. I later dropped out of these classes. Art became my big interest.

Now I realized that even though I had been religious, I had never known the peace and joy Eleanor experienced in her trust in Jesus Christ.

Not long after the rally all my family except me went to a benefit dance. “I don’t want to leave you alone,” Mother said. “Whom would you like to have over?”

No need to fear

“May I go to Eleanor’s house?” I asked. Mother said I could.

Eleanor picked me up the next afternoon and drove toward a shopping center. Suddenly two cars careened toward us. Eleanor swerved, and the two cars just narrowly missed us.

My heart pounded wildly. “Wow, that was close!” I exclaimed.

We started talking about death. “If I had died just then,” Eleanor said, “I know I would have gone to the Lord in Heaven, because I have received Jesus Christ as my Savior.”

I didn’t understand that kind of talk. Nor did I understand her quiet confidence.

We didn’t shop. We just talked. And when we returned to her house, we kept talking.

Eleanor’s husband and sons came home from a church ball game and sat down in the kitchen and talked with us. I thought, Here I am a Jew, and yet these people know God better than I do!

Eye-opening discussion

Mr. Stoppe brought out a Bible and started showing me verses about how all have sinned and how Jesus died for our sins. He also explained what it meant to believe in the Lord Jesus.

At 11 o’clock the Stoppes’ sons went to bed, but we kept talking about God, Jesus Christ, and the Bible. I later learned the boys were praying for me in their rooms.

“I want to believe!” I finally cried. “But I’m a Jew. A person is either a Jew or a Gentile. If I accept your religion, I’ll be a traitor and outcast to my people!” Somehow I could not take that step, though I wanted so much what the Stoppe family had!

“The Jews require a sign” (1 Corinthians 1:22)

Around 2 a.m. Mr. Stoppe left the room and Eleanor had gone into another room to get something. While they gone, I felt compelled to look up. I saw the Lord–yes, I actually saw Him!* He was reaching out His hand to me. And oh, the sense of His compassion and love I felt!

“Take my hand,” He said. “Believe in me. I’ll replace your miserable life with a new one and give you peace.”

“Eleanor, I believe!” I cried.

Eleanor ran in. “What did you say?” she asked.

“I believe!” I repeated.

“Well, praise the Lord!” she exclaimed.

Delivered to new life

The heavy burden was lifted from my heart, and I was so happy! It was the first time in my life I had felt happy. Eleanor asked me to pray, and to my amazement I knew God and could pray.

“I have been praying for your salvation for several years now,” Eleanor told me.

When Mr. Stoppe came back and saw me, he knew what had happened.

Although I slept on the floor in a sleeping bag that night, I had my first peaceful sleep.

When I went home the next day, I didn’t know how to tell my parents. But Mother just looked at me strangely and asked, “You look different. What happened to you?”

I told her, “I’ve found something, Mom. I’m a Christian now. I believe in Jesus Christ!”

To my surprise, my parents took the news quite well. I guess they were just glad to see me happy and at peace at last. Even the psychiatrist thought it was a good thing. I told him it was Jesus Christ who had changed me.

Right away I started attending church with the Stoppes. The services were new and strange to me, but I made a profession of my faith. I wanted to be baptized, but I hesitated for a while. If I were baptized, my family would really know I was a Christian. Would they reject me if I did that? Finally I decided to take my open stand for Jesus Christ and was baptized. My family, being broad-minded, did not reject me as I had feared.

I always had been a selfish, self-centered person; but now that I was a Christian I began thinking of others. Eventually the Lord led me to attend a Christian university where I experienced further growth in Him and learned more of His Word.

A favorite greeting of Jewish people is “Shalom” (peace), but people really don’t know what it means until they come to know the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Thank God, I know what it means at last.

I now have the peace for which I desperately yearned for so many years!

As you read this story, where do you find yourself today? Are you experiencing joy-or fear?

God wants to be our leverage in living, empowering us to feel better about ourselves, more excited about our future, more grateful for those we love and more enthusiastic about our faith.

If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, God has given you His Holy Spirit to help you live life according to His perfect plan. Why not pray this simple prayer and by faith invite Him to fill you with His Spirit:

Dear Father, I need You. I acknowledge that I have sinned against You by directing my own life. I thank You that You have forgiven my sins through Christ’s death on the cross for me. I now invite Christ to again take His place on the throne of my life. Fill me with the Holy Spirit as You commanded me to be filled, and as You promised in Your Word that You would do if I asked in faith. I pray this in the name of Jesus. As an expression of my faith, I thank You for directing my life and for filling me with the Holy Spirit. Amen.

*Several other Jewish Christians I have interviewed told me of remarkable experiences they had had similar to Candy’s, just before they yielded to Jesus Christ.

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