Joni Eareckson Tada: Sharing Hope

Joni Eareckson Tada

Dana Marshall

January 4, 2019
00:00 3:59

Hi, this is Joni Eareckson Tada with a remarkable story about choices.

We make them every day, don’t we, and often the choices we make completely alter the way we live. Take my friend, Dana, who has cerebral palsy. Dana often posts comments on my blog, and I’m always blessed to hear what she has to say. But what she posted the other day, well, it was pretty powerful. She was responding to something I had written about Isaiah 35, that glorious day when the lame shall leap like deer; paralyzed people will walk. Well, this is what she posted in response. She wrote:

"Thank you, Joni for your thoughts on Isaiah 35 and the fact that one day we will walk again! But I want you to know, with my cerebral palsy I chose to use a wheelchair; I chose to do that 27 years ago. People look at me in my wheelchair and think I've been in an accident, but when they learn I was born with cerebral palsy and yet chose the wheelchair, instead of walking, they ask WHY (because in their eyes, I'm giving up). I calmly explain that the pain, physical pain, and energy required for me to walk is just too much, and I'd rather have a life, than spend all my efforts painfully walking. My parents accepted it (after a short adjustment period), even after spending a lot when I was younger on helping me to learn how to walk. I simply chose to use the wheelchair instead of walking (walking takes great difficulty for me). I have come across people that say I did something to offend God, otherwise I'd be walking, and not in a wheelchair. But no, I chose the wheelchair. If God wanted me non-disabled, He would cure me. Maybe I need to be here in this wheelchair, helping other disabled people and trying to glorify God while I do it. Anyway, that’s my take from this old wheelchair of mine!”

I love that perspective, because Dana has hit on something pretty important in this blog post. And I understand her point. Yes, to walk is a wonderful thing—I haven’t done it in decades, but I recall very well the joy of running and climbing stairs and hopping and skipping and jumping. But there are more important things in life than standing up and walking. For Dana, the enormous effort, energy and physical pain involved in standing up and just getting her feet to move, even in a stiff, awkward and uncomfortable gait well, she would rather economize her time and effort and head into life sitting down.

But Dana and I do agree: One day when Jesus returns, both of us will be more than happy to give up our wheelchairs. We will be more than happy to not have to choose anything other than to stand up on grateful, glorified legs and “leap like deer” just as Isaiah chapter 35 describes and with all that leaping and celebrating, we will be worshipping our wonderful Savior and thanking Him for the amazing grace He gave in not only rescuing Dana and me and you from our sins, but the wonderful grace of Jesus that sustained us and bolstered our spirits all those many years in our wheelchairs. And Dana and I can’t wait. So what’s a little ‘sitting down’ going to do to us? Push us into depression because we can’t walk or run while here on earth? No way! Every day we will wake up in the morning leaning hard on Jesus Christ for that wonderful grace of His. Grace that enables us to choose to smile, whether it’s Dana choosing a wheelchair rather than a stiff, painful gait or me choosing to yield and submit to God, even though I don’t have the option of standing up like Dana. And friend, if you are struggling today, let the vision of Isaiah 35 bolster your spirits, too. And get ready to one day leap like a deer.

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About Joni Eareckson Tada: Sharing Hope

Joni Eareckson Tada: Sharing Hope is a broadcast ministry of Joni and Friends committed to bringing the Gospel and practical help to people impacted by disability around the world. Joni and Friends has been advancing disability ministry for over 40 years. Their mission to glorify God, communicate the Gospel and mobilize the global church to evangelize, disciple and serve people living with disability answers the call found in Luke 14 to “bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame… so that my house will be full.”

About Joni Eareckson Tada

Paralyzed as the result of a diving accident at age 17, Joni Eareckson Tada envisions a world where every person with a disability finds hope, dignity, and their place in the body of Christ. As the Founder and CEO of Joni and Friends, she is known worldwide as an author, speaker, disability rights advocate and radio personality. Her 10,000 radio programs are broadcast across the country and around the world, inspiring listeners to realize that there is hope in every hardship.
Joni Eareckson Tada is an esteemed Christian stateswoman and respected global leader in disability advocacy. Although a 1967 diving accident left her a quadriplegic, she emerged from rehabilitation with a determination to help others with similar disabilities. Mrs. Tada serves as CEO of Joni and Friends, a Christian organization which provides programs and services for thousands of special-needs families around the world. President Reagan appointed Mrs. Tada to the National Council on Disability, then reappointed by President George H.W. Bush. During her tenure, the ADA was passed and signed into law. Mrs. Tada served as advisor to Condoleezza Rice on the Disability Advisory Committee to the U.S. State Department. She served as Senior Associate for Disability Concerns for the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization. The Colson Center on Christian Worldview awarded Joni Tada its prestigious William Wilberforce Award, and she was also inducted into
Indiana Wesleyan University’s Society of World Changers. 
Joni Eareckson Tada has been awarded several honorary degrees, including Doctor of Humanities from Gordon College and Doctor of Divinity from Westminster Theological Seminary. She is an effective communicator, sharing her inspirational message in books, through artwork, radio, and other media. Joni Tada served as General Editor of the Beyond Suffering Bible, a special edition published by Tyndale for people affected by disability. Joni and her husband Ken were married in 1982 and reside in Calabasas, California.

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