From the book Equilibrium.

David Stokes ended each conversation with a smile. It wasn’t a fake smile. It wasn’t a forced grin. His facial expression came from deep within. 

In those months we spent together, I noticed David’s life of equilibrium. His stories included sorrow and miracles—all merging together in a world where grief and celebration sit beside each other. David arrived in Florida during a season I needed to find a balanced life where I could be joyful in hope no matter what had occurred or was occurring during those moments. 

He cooked me breakfast as I sat beside the window listening to his business tales while watching deer walk leisurely on a yard they considered their own. David and I ate together slowly, talking and telling stories and asking questions and offering honest ideas. We had only known each other for months; our conversation felt like we had been friends forever. 

We met for lunch, enjoying more food and more stories. David told me about when he lost everything—everything other than his true source of joy. He knew life with money and possessions and life without them. He knew how life with God brings joy and hope no matter what else happens. 

After David moved back to his home in Mississippi, we continued communicating from a distance. His joy came with him through his words and pictures. When he returned to Orlando, it was like we had not missed a moment. Eventually, he left again for Mississippi. This time he stayed there. I continued thinking about David and his joy, his hope, his balanced life in a world of chaos. I wanted to learn how to find equilibrium the way David had. 

When I traveled his direction during my sabbatical, David picked me up at the airport. He drove me places on his motorcycle. We sailed on a lake together. 

Many years later, I still see his face and hear his laughter. We still talk. I wish I could taste his breakfast food while the deer peeked in the window, but I am glad his influence is a part of who I am and who I want to become. 

From the roads and water and rooms, during the meals and worship services and conversations, when we prayed and asked questions and offered ideas, I learned more than David’s narrative. His bio was interesting. But I learned his heart. David lived with an inner reality of joy and hope.

His circumstances didn’t provide joy. David believed joy’s source is a hope deeper, longer, wider than possessions or titles or accomplishments. He was convinced joy appears when we welcome it as a gift from the Giver of Joy. 

I want to be a person living with joy amid the mysteries of life. I desire to be joyful in hope.