John welcomed me inside of his home. He asked if I’d like a cup of tea. He poured hot water over the loose black tea piled high in strainers above the mugs. He invited me to sit on his brown leather couch located in the living room. I sat down and was greeted by his two golden retrievers. He said, “You know Joel. We could have all kinds of conversations today, but let’s pray and ask Jesus to lead us into the conversations that he would desire us to have. So he prayed in the most conversational way, “Jesus, lead us into the conversations that you desire us to have…”
I asked John about his sabbatical in Scotland. He opened up so freely. He shared about what Jesus was teaching him and speaking to him and about his family. He talked about his heart and what he was asking Jesus to do inside of it. Tears filled the corners of my eyes, as I sat listening. I was finding my story inside of the one he was sharing.
I shared what I was learning through the course of this book I am writing. The healing I’ve found, the masks that have been removed and the wholeness I’ve I have been receiving through it. How I’ve been learning to live from my wild heart, not my weary hurt. He smiled, almost proud and said, “All good things, Joel! All good things!”
As the afternoon went on, he took out two whisky glasses. At the bottom of these glasses were clear replicas of Mount Everest. He filled each glass just past the summit with an 18 year Glenlivet scotch. I asked what books he’s reading and what books he would classify as “must reads.” He took me into his study and we looked through his book shelves. Some of his recommendations were Preparing for Heaven By Gary Black Jr., The Everlasting Stream by Walt Harrington and Beowulf, the new Seamus Heaney translation. We talked through the works of George Macdonald (who’s works have also been highly influential in my life and I rarely get to talk to anyone about them, because so few have read them).
Nearing the end of our time together, he said, “Let’s ask Jesus to see if he’s saying anything to us.” We sat in his living room in complete silence.” I was listening for several minutes and not hearing anything.” I opened my eyes and looked at the glass in my hand. The golden liquid swirling around the miniature Everest. I thought to myself, “ I really like how that looks.” Instantly, I heard in my mind, “Yeah, I like how it looks too.”
A minute later, John asked, “What did you hear?” I shared what I heard. He laughed and said, “That’s the playfulness of Jesus.” When my scotch reached basecamp, it was time to go. John walked me passed his dining room table. A large mound of archery equipment was piled on top of it. Nearing his front door I suggested, “Let’s take a picture to document this.” He said, “Yes, let’s do.” John then said, “After I come back from elk hunting and a men’s boot camp, I’ll call you.” I replied, “Sounds good.”
An hour later, I received a text from John. It said, “Enjoyed getting to know your heart more. You have a good heart… Jesus is up to some beautiful things in both our lives.”
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Dr. Joel Johnson is the President of Joel Johnson Ministries (501(c)3 Charity) and founder of the Dark Horse Initiative. Dark Horse’s vision is to see “every underdog an overcomer” and exists to “inspire underdogs to actualize their highest potential” through the Five Pillars of transformation: Faith, Friends, Family, Fitness, and Finances.Donate Now
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