Uncontrollable Shout Of Happiness
Absolute Joy Is Found In The Simplicity Of Gratitude
by Eric Elkin
Aleksander Gamme is a Norwegian adventurer who takes extreme trips, like biking across the Sahara Desert. In 2012, the RadioLab podcast staff interviewed him about a video Aleksander posted on YouTube. In the video, it is the 86th day of Gamme’s journey to the South Pole, and he is digging up a cache of equipment he buried in the snow.
In the early days of his expedition, Gamme would bury extra gear in the snow every 200 kilometers. It was equipment he didn’t need to carry. Leaving it behind helped lighten his load. However, he kept no record of what he left behind. So each time he uncovered a cache, the contents were a total surprise.
By the time the video was shot, he had lost 55 lbs of body weight. The result of grueling conditions and skiing ten hours a day. His diet for the last three months had no sugars, no junk food, just super healthy food to help him endure the long journey. All of these things combined with not knowing what was in the cache made the recording of his reactions priceless.
We watch Aleksander dig through a bag when all of a sudden he screams in absolute joy. It is an uncontrollable shout of happiness, and you can’t help yourself from laughing just watching it. What makes it even funnier is the source of his joy — a double pack of cheese doodles. Adding to entertainment value is his voice. He sounds like the Swedish chef from the Muppet Show.
I thought of Aleksander Gamme’s reaction when reading the story of the Prodigal Son. It made me wonder if his reaction to cheese doodles was like that of the father seeing his son in the story. The father’s joy is excessive and not bound by the cultural norms of his time. We never get to see his happiness, but something tells me it was like Gamme’s bliss in the video.
Almost every reflection I’ve experienced about the Prodigal Son focuses on the reactions of the participants. Is the younger son a schemer, or a grateful wounded son come home? How do his actions reflect his heart? We talk about the father’s reaction or the older son’s response. There is one line, though, I often pass by in the story. A line which reveals the truth about God and us.
The one line I often look past is this, “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.” Not so much the first half, but the second, all that is mine is yours. Is there anything God has not given you freely?
Too often the gifts God has given us are taken for granted. Seeing what we lack in life is somehow easier to grasp and dwell upon than our abundant blessings. A heart focused on what it lacks becomes empty and lost. I have never been so happy I screamed. Nor have I experienced a time when something so simple as cheese doodles brought me Aleksander Gamme’s level of happiness. Perhaps, a sense of gratitude for the simple things would help me discover an uncontrollable shout of happiness.
Click to read Luke 11-32
What was the happiest moment you can remember?
What was the source of your joy?
How often have you been that happy?
What simple thing can you be thankful for today?