Some books are just timeless… meant to be revisited.
This book, is both.
In the 1990’s I went through a pretty rough time. Honestly, I can’t remember functioning during much of the early 90’s. I do remember watching my future dreams and hopes fading into the distance with no hope of retrieval. My life was shifting, and it was shifting fast. I did however, know enough that I needed Jesus. The kind of need that literally took the air out of my lungs.
I wish I was exaggerating.
I was a little over a year into having accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior and sitting in church the pastor started talking about a new book. Laugh Again: Experience Outrageous Joy by Chuck Swindoll.
I remember the oddest things. Because I remember spending money I didn’t really have… to purchase this book… and I remember the desire to just laugh, and how precious that would truly be for my daughter to see.
I remember reading the book, during my lunch breaks, sitting on the park bench, mesmerized by Paul and how he found such joy. Remember, I wasn’t raised in the church and this is the first time I actually really was learning about Paul’s struggle.
Check out my prior post on my thoughts on Paul… HERE.
The book turned my life around as I learned how much pain Paul was in and how he considered it pure joy to lead others to the Jesus that met him on the roadway to Damascus.
I was facing upcoming horror in my life and this book was my saving grace at how I looked at life ahead.
So on comes the trials in 2016/17 and here I am up on the land, moving the mountain with pic axe and shovel and God meets me with a reminder.
You see, during the moving of the mountain 600 sermons from my old pastor were found, digitally redone, and uploaded by his Niece.
No, I don’t believe in coincidence’s. For out this very moment I am tired, weary, and in tears…
One of the sermons that is now coming through my headset mixed among my podcasts is the sermon I sat in 24 years prior. Listening to my pastor recommend a book that literally changed my life during one of the darkest moments of my life.
I remembered I had given the book away to someone else going through a horrible time. So, I dropped the shovel and went in to re-order the book. I needed this book again.
Pretty much like I needed air.
God is amazing in the way he sends reminders.
It took me over a year to re-read it. I took my time and read it slow devour each work and working through the bible cementing it in my soul. Putting each chapter into practice along the way.
He goes through Paul’s writings… describes his living conditions and his determination to spread the word of who Jesus Christ is. In a world that didn’t want to hear it. That was persecuting him for saying it and imprisoned him in an attempt to keep him quiet.
He should have been miserable by anyone’s standards… But yet you read about how he rejoiced… and then Swindoll take’s over and explains how that would look in our own era… and that it is possible and well within our reach.
‘Just trust God He will give you the strength of life.’ And ‘Jesus Christ is the key.. He bought us back… from our sins.’
And here it happens again. In the midst of incredible life alter changes and immense pain, I am finding joy. The ability to laugh with true happiness even when we don’t have any earthly reason to laugh.
And people are looking at me like I am crazy.
24 years ago my then Pastor stated: “We’re dull to the fact there’s incredible pain out there…..” Today with our constant news and bombardment of the horrors in this world and division in our nation this has never been more truer.
Never before in the history of the world has there been a need for more hope and love and laughter then today. People can be destroyed… Messengers of the truth can be destroyed… but when the messenger has the mindset that the Gospel is truth and the importance for all that hear about who Jesus Christ is… the message preached matters more to the messenger then his own body does.
And may I remind those from remote area’s… the internet is a tool that can be used to spread God’s light instantly!!!
That is the point when you find true Joy. When the word is so deep into your being that you trust God with everything…. That not to speak brings more pain then to speak.
Remember Jesus saying…. My true disciples produce bountiful harvests… NLT John 15:8
When you finish this book you realize just how important your story truly is. You find the way to rejoice at your trials and face them head on. You learn that building your community around you is important and exactly where your true hope is found. You learn to truly laugh even in the toughest times, to turn the tears that stream down your face into rejoicing love for our father. You gain a new way of looking at life through all the pain and you learn to seek ways to experience fun in the world. I love the chapter title… ‘Don’t Forget to Have Fun as You Grow Up’.
He’s right you know.
And the most interesting thing of all… as I practiced what Paul and Swindoll wrote… I started to truly experience outrageous Joy… even after I just spent the last 20 minutes in the cold outside rescuing a chicken that somehow escaped the safety of her yard. I still found it oddly funny that God chose this moment to show me that one of his sweet girls needed rescuing.
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