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It is almost midnight in Beatrice, Nebraska, but I must tell you how much your Jesus Laughing web site as touched my life, heart and soul this September Sunday night. (It is a long story I will do my best to shorten.)
A month ago I was in a Lincoln, Nebraska hospital for depression and suicidal thoughts. I am a very serious person who seldom genuinely laughs about anything. My husband of six months is always tryingto get me to laugh and telling me what an "Eyesore" I am because I am so gloomy. We both needed some counseling and went to our pastor for help. He told us about a man who was going to be at our church in a week talking about depression, and made us promise him that we would go.
Tim Glendening of Ord, Nebraska is a nationally known speaker on behalf of Bethany Evangelical Lutheran Church. He does a ministry of solo music and shares a personal message of hope to all who suffer from depression or know someone who is. "Out of the Darkness" is a ministry designed to help inform and educate people about the disease. He gives a personal tesitmony of his life-long battle with depression, which lead to an eventual suicide attempt of him locking himself in a closet for three days with a gun while his family was gone for the weekend. Tim talks about how he was a Christian, sang in the church choir and was even a board member for many years of his church. However, Tim had a faiththat was void of the knowledge of God's love for him.
One day, a Christian mental health counselor asked Tim how his relationship with Jesus was. Tim told him that he had been a Lutheran ever since he married his wife, then began to list the various church activities he was involved in. The counselor said, "that's nice, but what is your relationship like with Jesus%3F" Tim finally admitted that he didn't know what he meant. The man had Tim close his eyes and picture a crystal clear lake with pine trees, aspens and oaks in their fall colors mirrored as clearly in the lake as in the sky. In the distance were a ridge of Colorado rockies capped with snow and glistening in the afternoon sun. The air was crisp and clean and smelled fragrantly of a nearby field of wild flowers. Now picture yourself standing at the shores of the lake taking it all in. Where is Jesus in your picture%3F Tim started to cry when he couldn't picture Jesus anywhere but in the clouds as a beam of light. The counselor asked Tim, " Don't you think it is time Jesus came to stand beside you, to be within you andto be all around you?"
Tim Glendening asked the people who came to listen to him tonight at my church to close their eyes and to do the same thing. So I closed mine, and tried to picture the scene in my mind. Instead of me being at the shores of the lake however, I was in the field of wild flowers and was frolicking like a lamb at play, kind of skipping. I was holding someone's hand. I saw the male figure in my mind, and assumed it was my husband I was with. As the picture became clearer in my mind's eye, I noticed that I was almost dancing in the field of flowers and had a crown of daisies on my head. Jesus was the one who was dancing with me, holding my hand, and he had a crown of daisies on his head also! But what made mestart bawling in my pew like a baby was that Jesus and I were LAUGHING!!!! Jesus Laughing%3F%3F%3F%3F%3F I had NEVER thought of Jesus as laughing! ALL the pictures I've ever seen ofJesus (and I'm 43) have been of Jesus looking void of emotion (the traditional picture in churches and christian stores) and/or Jesus in pain and sorrow.
When I got home tonight, I got on the internet initially to look up Tim's web site, as he travels nationwide, and if you want him to speak at your church all you have to do is call or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. I wanted to contact him about going to my daughter's church in Kansas City.
While I was online, I wondered if there had ever been a picture done of Jesus laughing. I was willing to even bet my husband a full tank of gas for his van if there was one- I was that sure there wasn't a single one! ( And you know the price of gas now!) I went to yahoo and typed in "Jesus Laughing or Smiling". Your web site immediately came up! (And I immediately lost the bet!) What I saw made tears of joy run down my cheeks! I can not begin to describe to you, Ralph, the release I felt, nor the permission I felt I was given by God to enjoy life by seeing your picture! If Jesus can laugh, then so can I !!!!
Isn't it a shame that all the pictures in my mind as a child (and as a severely depressed adult) of Jesus were ones of him serious of sorrowful%3F Thank you for also adding the verses of scripture to the pictures of Jesus laughing. Even the Father's own words about His son tells us that the Son laughs and experiences pure joy! It is okay to LAUGH! That may sound absolutely ridiculous to some of you, but to someone who has recently been hospitalized for depression, it was a bit of heaven sent directly to me via the internet. It was as if Jesus sent me a picture of himself- a picture taken of when he was in the field of flowers with me laughing! It is going to be a picture I am going to keep in my wallet always, and I want to surround myself with these pictures wherever I am as a reminder that it is okay to smile, laugh and to experience joy in my life. For someone who has taken life very seriously (and thought that God did too!) it is a key to happiness for me tonight! I want to give wallet pictures to EVERYONE, now! ( And I will!!!!!)
Sorry this is so long, but it really is my "readers digest condensed version". I just wanted you to know how your picture of Jesus Laughing touched a 43 year old woman's soul and gave her a new lease on wanting to live. And not just to live- but also to LAUGH!
May God's smile be upon you and may he laugh with joy over you always!