“I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free.” (Psalm 119:32)
I first noticed Jake when he was praying. We were traveling with a Russian singing group that was appearing in U.S. and Canadian churches. Jake handled the sound equipment, and I drove the van.
We often stayed in homes of church members to save money along the way, and on this occasion he and I were roommates. I awoke after some minutes asleep and noticed a bedside light still on. There, on the other side of his bed, Jake was kneeling on the floor praying silently, his face lifted up, eyes shut tight, back ramrod straight. I watched for some minutes and fell asleep again with the light still on, Jake still praying.
After that I began to notice more about how Jake lived. A quiet young man, he had done little until then to draw my attention. What I saw was someone who, with no more noise than his prayers had created, lived life with enthusiasm and joy. He was interested in things, concerned about people and eager to see and learn all he could. A Russian himself, he was visiting the West for the first time and was thrilled with every new road and town and name and restaurant. He threw himself into trying to learn our language, laughing at his failures and exulting in his successes. With a light in his eyes Jake loved life and his sample of it.
Since traveling with Jake I have observed that people who live successfully have that same kind of attitude. They participate in what is happening. They make an effort. They tackle opportunities with abandon. They focus mentally and spiritually on the many things that are good and right about life. They appreciate that a lifetime is not really a long time-here today, gone tomorrow. So they live it while they can, with hearts that are free.
At the end of our tour, Jake embraced me at the airport and said, “Thank you, Michael. Is like a dream.” His words – and way of living – came back to me when I saw the latest film adaptation of Jules Verne’s “Around the World in Eighty Days.” In it there is a line that reads: I traveled the world looking for inspiration, and I found it in a man who lives what he dreams.
Jake inspired me. He was a man whose heart was free, and it freed him to live his dream.
By Dr. Michael A. Halleen