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.
Featured Resources From Joni Eareckson Tada: Sharing Hope
Discover the secret to peace, joy, and hope in times of anxiety as the beloved author of Joni weaves contemporary insights with the timeless wisdom of seventeenth-century monk Brother Lawrence.The Practice of the Presence of Jesus offers wisdom from these two everyday saints, writing nearly four hundred years apart, that teaches you how to experience the nearness of God in your life. Through rich devotional content from Brother Lawrence’s Practice of the Presence of God, and through original art and new meditations from Joni, you’ll encounter a unique weaving of past and present spiritual reflections on a God who never changes.As we recognize God with us moment by moment, our mundane becomes holy. Our pain becomes peace-filled. And our uncertainties fade into the greatest, most certain hope of all.