Hello! I want to first warn you about the content and the length of this post. It could be shorter, but I felt I would be leaving out something important. It could be longer, I have been known to carry on and on. But I am trusting God that it is just right. It’s about my journey to Jesus. Growing up in a hard working Jewish home with a dark secret.
But God did not allow that secret to break me, rather it helped change me. Into what He would have me be. And the journey continues until I take my last breathe on this side of home.
My prayer is that you find strength, encouragement and hope from my story and that you will share yours as well.
May God Bless You and Keep You.
Carla J Schuchman
MY JOURNEY TO JESUS
Childhood should be filled with smiles and giggles. Fearless fun to learn and grow under the love of wonderful parents doing their best with what they know and what they have. My childhood was not all bad; in fact much of it was wonderful. But I had a deep dark secret. Hidden in the far away depths of darkness. A darkness that was not allowed to take me. For the Light would not let me go.
It began around 5 years old as far as I can remember. I knew it was wrong. I felt ashamed, embarrassed, and dirty. I remember becoming very self-conscious, beginning to withdraw into my own little world. You know those imaginary worlds that children can make up? Only later, in hindsight, did I realize I didn’t make this world up. It became the place I could go and sit in the Lap of the One who held me together, who loved me and made everything okay. I sat In My Father’s Lap.
I was sexually abused from 5 to around 13 or 14 years old. You know when little girls become little women. You maybe thinking right now, How could should allow this to go on that long? Why didn’t she tell anyone? What was wrong with her? My answer, I don’t know, really. I remember being scared, not wanting anyone to know, not wanting to be the reason my family fell apart. From the outside it was plenty obvious we had problems, but I don’t think any more than others. We were different. So I thought. My Dad was a strikingly attractive tall man. My Mom was a very obese woman who was very self-conscious, and so very private. They didn’t go out together, and very rarely seen together. On top of that we were one of very few Jewish families in our area. And we were different from the other Jewish families as well. So I thought. Through my little eyes everyone else seemed to have so much, and we struggled. We seemed to struggle my whole young life. We as a family never fit in. And I as a child, and then a teenager, I never seemed to fit in. I had friends, but I was so alone in the world. But God…
Parallel to this going on in my here on earth world, I later would understand that something spiritual was going on all at the same time. I don’t remember how I was taught about God, or that I was taught to believe in Him. I just remember knowing Him and that He was always there.
When I was around 5 or 6 yrs old, my mother took me to a dress up Christmas party. Santa was going to be there! My father did not approve at all, but she took me anyway. Looking back, perhaps my Mom was trying to find a way to “fit in”. I don’t think I have ever seen a Santa that seemed as real as that one. He was perfect! And my child within stills believes it was the real Santa!
He would call out each child’s name and they would run to him, sit on his lap, and he would give them their gift. I noticed all the other kids were getting these big beautifully wrapped boxes. When my name was called, I ran to him. He had this very little gold box with a little gold string like ribbon. Why was mine so little and seemly so insignificant than all the other gifts? Still I was excited and went back to my table and my Mom. I opened it; it was a little girls gold necklace. I think at that time it was the most beautiful necklace I had ever seen and it was mine. A small gold cross on a delicate chain. I felt truly special, Santa must have thought so much of me…then I heard my Mom say that I couldn’t keep it. I remember the sadness in her eyes telling me this, but now I understand she was doing what she had to do. I proceeded to throw a minor fit, not to draw too much attention, but it did not work. Santa gave that to me, it was mine! I didn’t understand what it meant I just knew I was given something special…
I don’t remember the other gift that was given to me in the place of the little gold cross.
We moved to another city when I was 7 yrs old. I made friends with the girls in my circle and across the street. Around the corner…
Every one of them, Christians. Their families very involved in church and church activity and seemingly very busy trying to win me to Christ. This little insecure Jewish girl with a terrible secret and a wonderful secret. My parents got upset of their witnessing to me and told them I wouldn’t be allowed to play with their girls if they didn’t stop. They did, sort of, but as we grew, my friends took over where their parents left off.
I had a hard time in school and in synagogue. I just couldn’t find my place. The more I tried to fit into a group the more I realized I didn’t fit anywhere, not even in temple. Which drew me within myself and closer to God. I began journaling when I was a teenager. I’ve looked back at these journals and they are painful to read. Mostly because I always seemed to be so sad and full of conflict, but with a desire to rise up out of it. There was and still is a common thread in those years of journals, almost every entry begins with Dear God…
In high school there were a few kids that always seemed to be in my class from year to year and always seemed to be seated by me. One in particular used to ask me, “Do you want to go to hell? How can you sit there and say you believe what you are supposed to believe but you can’t explain any of it or why?” “What if your wrong?” “I don’t want you to go to hell!” I began to question my parents, who were not open to the conversation. I questioned the Rabbi, who never gave any answers that satisfied that need to know inside me. And so the journey to know began…
After school I got married very young and tried to find my way. I was still lost. I married my first real love, a wonderful, handsome, kind man. I told him my past. He was so understanding and full of love. But we had issues, I had issues. He tried so hard to help me, but I had to go my own way, and he allowed me to. Years of searching, including promiscuous ways, drugs and alcohol, and a way a life that was fast, hard and lonely. All along, God was with me. I talked and prayed to Him all the time.
During this time it was brought to my attention that I should confront my abuser. That was the last thing I wanted to do, not because I needed to but because I felt I didn’t! It was over so what was the point? That time was past. I remember hearing something from somewhere when I was younger, “Don’t let your past dictate your future.” So why did I have to address this issue face on? I tried, but I ended up just being very quite. I really had nothing to say. I don’t remember being really angry, I don’t remember being anything and I don’t know if I had forgiven completely then but I had heard enough about it and I knew for me, that was the past and it was over! It was not talked about again. Until…
As I made my way through life, traveling around the country, finding the place I was to be, I ended up in South Carolina. I met a man with two children and I fell into infatuation! Yes, I realize now that in the beginning that is what it was. He was known to be the biggest, baddest dude in the county and I was soon to find out in many other counties too! As I gave more and more of myself into this relationship, I came to realize I had put myself into another abusive situation. This was not sexual, but mental and sometimes a bit volatile. Many times I thought I should get out, but I never did. Back and forth we went for years. Through those very turbulent times I managed to start a contracting company doing painting and decorative painting. It took a lot of my time. Looking back I see how every step I took was leading me right down the path to my Savior.
A big job I received was at a home of a God-fearing family. The more I was around them, the more I learned about this family, the more I wanted to know about them. They were always so awesome! I was jealous, and I wanted what they had, but what was it? As I got to know Maryann Bishop better, I began to open up my life with her. In her kind and gentle way, she was teaching me what I had yearned to know for so many years. After a few years of doing work at her house, on and off, and give or take a few months, she told me she felt it was time for me to read a book she had for me. A small book, wouldn’t take long. I accepted. Betrayed by Stan Telchin.
That book changed my life forever. And you know what, it wasn’t as much the content, the body of the book as it was a separate chapter at the back of the book. A list of prophecies and the probability that one man could fulfill only eight of them. This is a summary of it:
Recent studies by Biblical scholars indicate that there are 456 prophecies concerning the Messiah. What are the laws of probability on the fulfillment of these prophecies? Peter Stoner wrote an article on this in Science Speaks (Moody Press 1964) in which he considered these eight prophecies:
- The place of the Messiah’s birth;
- His being preceded by a messenger;
- How he was to enter Jerusalem;
- His betrayal by a friend;
- He would be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver;
- The money would be thrown in God’s house;
- He would be mute before His accusers;
- He would be crucified.
Stoner reported that by using the modern science of probability in reference to these eight prophecies, “we find that the chance that any man might have lived down to the present time and fulfilled all eight prophecies is one in ten to the 17th power. This would be 1 in 1000,000,000,000,000,000. In order to help us comprehend this we take 10 to the 17th power in silver dollars and lay them down on the face of Texas. They will cover the state two feet deep. Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly, all over the state. Blindfold a man and tell him that he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up one silver dollar and say that this is the right one. What chance would he have of getting the right one? Just the same chance that the prophets would have had of writing these eight prophecies and having them all come true in any one man, from their day to the present time, providing they wrote them in their own wisdom.”
Yes, that did it for me. Being from Texas and traveling all over that state, I KNOW how big it is. I have always loved math, to a limited degree, and I got the probability ratio. I got it. It made perfect sense to me! I was so excited!
I was in my bedroom, upstairs, sitting on the edge of the bed. As I closed the book and reflected for a while, I just knew this was it. I have heard stories of so many that came to believe, that they experienced a change, they felt something, tingles and giggles…
I felt nothing. As I sat on the edge of the bed, I did not know what to say. I never knew Jesus. I have never talked to Him. I only knew God and I always could talk to Him. But now, Jesus? So I looked to my right, as if He was sitting right beside me, and I know He was, and still is, and I said, “Well Jesus, I reckon it’s time we get to know each other.”
Almost 10 years later, I am so happy that I am still getting to know Jesus and His ways! I know God our Father, Jesus His Son and our Savior and the Holy Spirit that has the hardest job of living inside me and keeping things straight! I am learning and growing everyday and there is nothing more important than getting to know Him more!
Now, don’t get me wrong, I haven’t reached that goal, but I know that I must pursue it. I love the scripture:
12Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
15All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16Only let us live up to what we have already attained.
WOW! I love this, and from Paul! A Jewish man who was transformed by Jesus Himself on Damascus Road! Not any Jewish man, but a warrior! And now a warrior for Christ!
I still need a lot of cleaning up in my house (my heart), and I get distracted and take my eyes off Jesus from time to time, but rest assured Jesus is there doing the work, drawing me near, whispering when needed and shouting if necessary. I know His love, forgiveness and redemption. It’s up to me to listen. I think back and look back at the path I have been down to get to here, and the fact there is no denying His presence in my life from the very beginning. How wonderful! He, the Most High God, came after me. Me…
To finish up, but just for now since the testimony is alive and still growing, I not only learned about forgiveness, but how God forgets those sins. As far as the east is from the west!
12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
4Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
2 Corinthians 5:17-19
17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
See, I learned that hurting people hurt other people. This angered me at first, the thought that someone hurt my family, but I knew I had to forgive them as well.
My father had always fought illness of some sort. Back, leg, heart conditions. He lost his leg not long before I came to know who Jesus was. My parent’s neighbors, the same ones from my childhood that spoke to me about Jesus, had always made my family a priority in their lives. I knew Mr. Gallaway was still coming over and talking and praying with my Dad. I had begun to talk to him about Jesus too. We discussed many things, sometimes loudly, over the years. Mom didn’t want to hear it, but we continued, many times out of her ear’s shot. Little did I know the seed I was sowing. My Dad was in Hospice for 14 days! He had stuff to get straight I suppose. I stayed every night with him. I just didn’t want him to be alone at all. We talked about all kinds of stuff and mainly kept the atmosphere light and easy. But I knew I had to tell him again, as if he may have forgotten, that I forgave him. I read many scriptures out of God’s Word and told him it is because of God, because of Jesus that I knew what to do and that I knew I could do it. He was forgiven of everything, I could remember no more. As far as the east is from the west. He knew and I knew he knew, I loved him.
He never told me himself. There is still that fear among many Jews, that they will have betrayed their people if they chose to believe in Jesus. The day was getting long, we knew Dad’s time was nearing; I was out in the courtyard when Mr. and Mrs. Gallaway came to see how I was. I told them Dad never accepted Him, Mr. Gallaway said, “Oh Carla, yes he did, about a year ago. We tried to get him to tell ya’ll himself, but he was terrified! But he did, he accepted Jesus as the Messiah!” Hallelujah! I was ready. And so was he…
There have been times when I, on purpose try to remember certain times in my past. In the abuse. My mind isn’t allowed into those dark places any more. I wasn’t quite sure how that could be, until one day as I was meditating on God, His awesome power and gifts He has put in my life. I went back to think about this journey I have been on. When I went back to those times I noticed again, I simply could not go into those places! Then that beautiful still small voice inside said, “Carla, you can not remember or go back to it because I have removed it, forgiven and forgotten as far as the east is from the west.” I understood. I remember the act but I cannot dwell in it, think about it or put myself back in it because God took it away. Forgiveness looks so different now. Can you imagine?
If you believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sins and the sins of all who will call on His name and believe, then how can we ever withhold forgiveness to anyone?
1 Timothy 2:4
4who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
29The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
I may have had a rocky start, BUT GOD was with me.
I may have traveled roads I should not have, BUT GOD found me.
I may have taken my eyes off Him, BUT GOD drew me near.
I may have been lost, BUT JESUS saved me!
For I have sat, IN MY FATHER’S LAP