Happy Birthday, Donna!
I just want to let you know at the start, Christina does not know anything about this ‘Birthday Letter’ other than to deliver it to you personally. At this writing I am debating whether to have her give it to you or read it to you.
Donna, I want to first of all tell you how proud I am of you ever since you were diagnosed with cancer. Yes, there were bumps in the road, but overall you have shown a lot of courage. At this moment I’m sure the term ‘life is short’ resonates with you.
The life given to us is short, but the next life is for all eternity. Forever and forever. This life is nothing but a vapor. We’re born, we live our life, and then what seems like it’s only been a moment and boom… it’s over.
But, it isn’t really over.
There is a thing known as eternity. Whether we like it or not doesn’t really matter. It exists. Whether we believe in an after-life or not doesn’t really matter either. It exists. Please stay with me.
As a little boy growing up in Miami, I asked my mom a question; her answer changed my life, and not for the better.
The question was, “Mom, when we die what happens to us?” The answer haunted me for years. She said, “Well, that’s it. It’s over.”
From that point on I was an innocent 6 or 7-year-old who now had a fear of dying and death. A real, honest to God, fear.
From a little boy to a grown man, that fear literally stayed with me, especially when I went to bed at night. My mind had a constant theme running through it. What is going to happen to me after this life? What if I die right now? Is this really it? There’s no more?
All through my life, from a little boy through high school and then becoming a man in the U.S. Navy, I had the constant fear of ‘what’s next’? ‘Is this it’? Does anyone have an answer for me? Those questions were never far from me. However, the answers were.
Time went on, and your sister came into my life, but of course that fear was still right there to haunt me.
I didn’t know about God. I didn’t care about God. I had no knowledge of God. Yes, I was born a Jew. My parents were Jewish as were my grandparents. But, we lived as Jews in name only. No synagogue, none of that stuff. Our family was quite secular.
Then, one of the best things that ever happened in my life took place. Christina and I brought a little boy named William into this world. Wow! What a miracle to be there in the room and witnessing the birth of a new life. Unbelievable.
Through the years Christina shared things about the God she believed in which helped to fuel my curiosity; but still, at the same time, I remained very cautious.
In the Jewish culture I was raised in, Jesus was not associated with anything good. After all, through the centuries the Jews killed Jesus, and thus we’ve paid the price ever since. From being thrown out of one country and into another and then of course came the Holocaust.
That fear of dying and death were still hanging around and would not leave. As a couple of years went by, I finally went to the right source without even realizing it at the time.
I was driving down Del Prado Blvd. in Cape Coral on my way to work, which back then was Bill Smith, Inc. I rolled my window down and simply yelled, ‘God, if you exist, then show me who you are.’ And He did.
It was a day or two after that plea that I was sitting in an office – doctor or dentist, I don’t remember. But there on the table was a magazine from some religious organization about God stuff. I picked it up, read a couple of articles and just couldn’t get enough. I subscribed to it. It also gave a very basic course in what the Bible is all about. Adam and Eve, Moses, etc.
Then, out of nowhere, some guy comes by the Bill Smith store and asked if he could drop off some newspapers for our customers to take home for free. Sure, why not. So, he did.
It was a newspaper, The Lord’s Press, and I read everything in it. The guy, Harvey Sage, would come by at least once or twice a week. I had lots of questions. Life and death questions. God questions. Jesus questions. And Harvey answered them all. Not by his opinion or some guess. Every answer came right from the scriptures.
I read all kinds of stuff, even this thing called the Bible. I even bought one that had the Old and New Testament. (Jews aren’t supposed to read the New Testament. Jesus is in there.)
As I read the Bible, listened to Christina and watched lots of Christian television, I finally realized who Jesus was, and what He did on that cross that I knew absolutely nothing about.
Finally, Harvey came by the store; and for 2 or so hours he talked to me about being born again, which simply means allowing my old self to die and living for Jesus. Pretty simple stuff.
I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Because of Him, all my bad stuff (sin) was put on Him and taken to that cross so I could spend eternity with Him and not in Hell. And, yes, both of those places exist and they are very real.
Donna, God gives us free will. He doesn’t force us to do anything. But, He sent His only Son into this world so that none shall perish. Wow! No death. From this life to the next. My fear of dying and death were completely taken away along with all the wrong things I’ve done and said that goes against God and His ways (sins).
That’s the point, Donna. We are all accountable for what we’ve done. Do I still mess up (sin)? Yes, but now all of my sins from yesterday, today and tomorrow have been washed in the blood of Jesus.
Once I made the choice to believe in Him and to know him, God doesn’t see ‘Mark the sinner’. He sees me clothed in the righteousness of His son. That means I am really and truly forgiven of all my mess-ups (sins).
When I go before God, and we all will, I will have to account for all my filthiness. However, Jesus will be standing next to me as my defense attorney, and He will say, “Mark is not guilty. I took his guilt and put it on myself.” I will, at that moment, enter into a paradise known as Heaven – a real place.
Donna, there is only one way to avoid God’s wrath and the sentence of spending eternity in a real place called Hell. Jesus. He’s the way, the truth and the life.
It is as easy as A B C.
A: Admit you are a sinner and made mistakes.
B: Believe that Jesus is God’s Son, died on the cross for you, and rose up from the grave on the third day.
C: Confess Jesus as Lord in your life and commit yourself to a life of following Jesus, and serving others.
Will you still have some questions about God, Jesus and all that stuff in the Bible? Of course you will; I still do. But I now have an eternal security. I know where I’m going after this life.
Well, like I wrote earlier, Donna, you have a choice. God gave you a thing called free will. It is either yes, I accept God’s plan of salvation, or no, I reject God and His plan. There is no other option. And, God has only one plan. There is no plan b.
Christina, William and I have been praying for your salvation for many years, and it is more sincere than you can know.
Donna, God loves you just the way you are. He already died for you. Your salvation is there for the taking. It is a free gift. What a deal! He died so you could live. Wow!
So, with that, this could be the best birthday gift you’ve ever received. Please take it and open it and have the assurance that the moment you close your eyes on this earth for the last time, the very next moment you will be in the presence of the Lord.
Happy Birthday Donna,