We continue today with the story of Rich and Sabina, with Rich narrating his time after his marriage when he was recovering from tuberculosis.. (Click here to read part one.) And don’t worry, Sabina will be in the next part…
Although I had read the Bible for its literary interest, my mind closed at the point where the adversaries challenge Christ: ‘Descend from the cross if you are the son of God’; and, instead, He dies. It seemed to prove His foes were right, and yet, I found my thoughts going spontaneously to Christ. I said to myself, ‘I wish I could have met and talked to Him’. Each day my meditation ended with this thought.
There was a woman patient in the sanatorium who was too ill to leave her room, but somehow she heard of me and sent a book about the Brothers Ratisbonne, who founded an order to convert Jews. Others had been praying for me, a Jew, while I wasted my life.
After some months in the sanatorium, I grew slightly better, and went to convalesce in a mountain village. Here I became friendly with an old carpenter, and one day he gave me a Bible. It was no ordinary Bible, as I learnt later: he and his wife had spent hours every day praying over it for me.
I lay on the sofa in my cottage, reading the New Testament, and in the days that passed Christ seemed to me as real as the woman who brought my meals. But not everyone who recognizes Christ is saved; Satan believes, and is not a Christian. I said to Jesus, ‘You’ll never have me for a disciple. I want money, travel, pleasure. I have suffered enough. Yours is the way of the Cross, and even if it is the way of truth as well, I won’t follow it.’ His answer came into my head, like a plea: ‘Come my way! Do not fear the Cross! You will find that it is the greatest of joys.’
I read on, and again tears filled my eyes. I could not help comparing Christ’s life with mine. His outlook was so pure, mine so tainted; His nature so selfless, mine so greedy; His heart so full of love, mine filled with rancor. My old certainties began to crumble in the face of this wisdom and truthfulness. Christ had always appealed to the depths of my heart, to which my conscience had no access, and now I said to myself, ‘If I had a mind like His, I could rely on its conclusions.’ I was like the man in the ancient Chinese story, trudging exhausted under the sun, who came on a great oak and rested in its shade. ‘What a happy chance I found you!’ he said. But the oak replied, ‘It is no chance. I have been waiting for you for 400 years.’ Christ had waited all my life for me. Now we met.