The question the leader of our men’s group posed during a discussion about discipleship was straightforward: What brings you deep joy?
I had an immediate answer, drawing from two events—one current and the other past.
The first involved a story I wrote recently for AG News, the Assemblies of God (AG) website about the stunning turnaround of a couple who had been addicted to crystal meth and marijuana.
While she had gone to church on occasion and rededicated her life to Christ in 2012, the woman told me that had been an emotional event with no real substance.
By 2015, her life was a mess. She and her husband fought so bitterly that one time she wished he would die.
She carried around other secret sins too. Outside of her husband, no one knew she liked to get high after the kids were in bed. While she had a reputation for being a “nice” person, in private the “F” word was her favorite.
That all changed after she accepted a friend’s invitation to an AG church after rejecting offers from several others from various congregations.
A few weeks later, she attended a revival where she responded to the evangelist’s altar call and felt overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit.
“I just started crying out to God,” she says. “I remember getting up from the altar and just hugging everybody. I went home and told my husband, ‘I just got filled with the Holy Spirit and it was the best thing ever.’”
From Inmate to Supervisor
Her husband’s story was equally moving. A dealer, he had gotten hooked in high school when a friend offered him some meth. Fast forward two decades and he had six felonies and a prison record.
After another drug offense, he was looking at a return trip to lock-up. The judge offered an alternative: drug court. That meant attending support group meetings during six years on probation.
Although he tried AA meetings in a nearby town, he found a more supportive atmosphere at an AG-affiliated support group. The discussions there about God made him curious enough to accompany his wife to church in 2016.
The first night of a revival, he made the same decision to follow Christ his wife had, after the evangelist warned about the hazards of hell.
“It was somewhere you didn’t want to go,” he said.
This couple’s pastor verified their amazing turnaround. It includes the man successfully completing probation and working his way up to supervisor at a food production plant.
A Helping Hand of Joy
Such stories give evidence of a God who still works in amazing ways in people’s lives. They never grow old.
Neither does the experience I had in 2010 while enjoying dinner with an author and his wife; we had stayed in touch after his project ended and become friends.
His book had become a rousing success—released by a major publisher, it had helped him land a guest spot on a national radio program and surpassed 100,000 (today the number is more than 300,000) in sales.
As we talked, he mentioned that he had been brushing up on his Spanish in preparation to share his story with an audience the following summer in Mexico.
Suddenly, a wave of delight washed over me. I felt so happy for him, simply because of his triumphs. I never made any royalties from his book, nor would his future success enrich me financially.
But I didn’t care. It wasn’t my rewards that mattered. Joy doesn’t come from self-fulfillment, but in helping others along life’s path.