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Dear Ralph Kozak,
I am sending this email to let you know how much the picture of Jesus Laughing has affected my life. I have searched for the artist who drew this picture a few times over the last year, and just today hopefully found you!
I will try to keep it brief, but I am very exited to have tracked you down. You see, about two years ago my life was a wreck. I had been raised in a Christian home, married with children-yet I ran from God and His call on my life. I was on a slippery slope. I lived with immense guilt over things I had done that hurt so many people who loved me. I went from one therapist to another who all diagnosed me as being depressed and handed me prescriptions for pills to help me "feel better". All the while my Father was waiting, just like the story of the prodigal son [daughter].
Well, I was taking a break from my job at the sewing factory one late-autumn afternoon in '97, and I had walked up the hill to the gas station on the corner to get a soda pop. I pushed open the door and as I heard the bell ringing, my eyes looked up and landed on a picture up on the wall behind the cash register. It was a picture of a man, roughly drawn, his head tilted back-as if in a full belly laugh...the words underneath were~Jesus Laughing.
I was frozen. I had grown up with the pictures of Jesus that were stern, the eyes following you around the room, judging your every move-creepy! But this Jesus...
I was caught up in the thought of "Jesus laughing"... standing there in the doorway of that gas station! "Was it possible%3F" I thought to myself...I knew "Jesus wept"...but Jesus laughing%3F I was in such a deep dark place, and that picture, that thought stayed with me the rest of the day. I drove home wondering if it were possible that the Jesus who suffered and grieved and cried and bled and died could have had joy??? One thing was for sure, if that was true, then there was hope for me, even with as dark as my heart was.
The very next day I was in a Goodwill store and I saw it! The very same 12x16 picture of~Jesus Laughing...I couldn't believe it! I had to have it. It was only $1.99 [My Father God knows me too well...cheapskate]
I brought the picture home and put it in a nice new Home Interior wood frame and hung it on the living room wall. My heart was so far from God, but looking at that picture gave me hope. Sometimes I would sit and look at it and it would bother me, other days I would just cry, other times I would talk to God and ask Him to show me that He is real in a personal way. Little did I know that He already was...through that picture! I began searching my bible for verses on joy...and EUREKA I found it...Jesus said, "I speak these things in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves." Wow, Jesus had joy! Then it all came together, Jesus and the little children, Jesus and the wedding feast, hanging out at sinners houses for dinner...Jesus knew joy! REAL joy, because He knew what it was to live totally in His Father's will, how to live God's love and when He looked up and saw Zacceaus up in that tree...little man, up there like a kid! He must have had a hard time holding back the chuckles as He talked with the Pharisees at times...
Since that time I have indeed come home-as the prodigal daughter. I owe my life to the One who loved me enough to give all for me...to give up the splendor and joy of heaven to suffer and die for me...to come here to where I must search for the purpose of my life, and know that He was here. He learned, He grew, He hungered, He wept, He laughed.
Thank you so much for the part you have played in pointing the way home. I am so sad for the people who can not accept the concept of Jesus being joyful...Thank you again...I really wanted to bless you today for the wonderful gift God has given to me through you in this picture hanging on my living room wall.
Keep up the good work and have a great day with Jesus.