This is a book about the treasures I found in my darkness and the greatest of all was this: aching joy. The Lord taught me how to sigh in pain, how to weep in gladness, and how to trust during days of hope deferred.
—Jason Hague, Aching Joy, Introduction
It’s good to be back! After the constancy of conversation, motion, and tasks, a July unplugging was much needed. As I suspected, the slowing of life didn’t come easy. For the first several days (ok, more) I had a hard time sitting down. Putzing here and there in the rented apartment, I focused on what we would eat, managing our Covid (yes, 3 of 4 us came down on the way there), and walking in a bit of a circle around the flat. On day two I recognized what I was doing and had a wry chuckle at my own expense. But that didn’t speed up the time it took to “come down.”
When the true slowing finally came, sitting and gazing at the ocean was almost mesmerizing for me. Each lap of the water seemed to bring life, new possibilities, bigness and fresh air through my heart and mind. After a time, I was ready to think. To engage something. To be taken outside of my own thoughts and into dialogue with someone else’s. I wanted to be made aware of things I’d lost sight of. I wanted to explore what had gotten bypassed in my heart in the busyness of the days pre-rest.
Kindles don’t hold up very well in hot weather. The brightness of the sun outshines the glow of the screen. Phones aren’t a good choice either. But books work great. Providentially I had one! Pulling the beaten-up, meant-to-be-read much earlier book in my beach bag I wondered if it would speak to me. Aching Joy by Jason Hague shined its light in my heart from page one.
About a pastor who discovers his son is autistic, this book poignantly took me into my own “land of unanswered prayers” as he puts it. Genuinely and tenderly, he took me on a journey that invited reflection, examination, and repentance. Written as a fellow traveler in this “land of unanswered prayer,” Jason invited me to see where expectations came from my own visions rather than God’s. It was uncomfortable…but needed and good. And in a way that only someone who has traveled certain pathways can affect, he brought me through to renewal, gratitude, and joy.
Summer isn’t over yet. Europe is about to go on vacation while America is gearing up for the start of school in early to mid-August. But there’s still time no matter where you live. Time to find a quiet corner, or a chair by a pool, a cool breeze on the deck after the sun goes down. Time to read. Maybe a novel, maybe some prose, but something that will take your imagination, stir your mind, and incite your heart to reach beyond yourself…
Good Read #1: Aching Joy: Following God Through the Land of Unanswered Prayer by Jason Hague