Do you know Joni Eareckson Tada? Maybe not personally, but do you know who she is?
Joni dove into a pond when she was 17 years old and broke her neck. She has spent nearly 50 years in a wheelchair. She is married to Ken Tada and is the founder of Joniandfriends.org. She travels the world speaking, writing, distributing wheelchairs to the disabled in need and hosting camps for families of kids with disabilities. In addition, she is an artist who paints with a pen or paintbrush in her teeth. If I understand correctly, she is one of the longest living quadriplegics, and I have no doubt she is also one of the busiest.
Guess how Joni learned about Jesus?
From a nervous sixteen-year-old boy.
Yup. I know him.
My dear friend is now a pastor, and he is far from being sixteen. (He will laugh if he ever reads this, while he runs a hand through his gray hair.) But then Steve will thank the Lord for what God did with his feeble efforts. All he did as a teenager was give God an opportunity to influence a person for Christ if He wanted to…
and boy, did God ever want to!
You can read about how it all happened in this excerpt from Joni’s devotional book, The Pearl of Great Price.
While enjoying this today, ask yourself–as I am–if we are living like this young teenager did.
- Are we opening our mouths?
- Are we trying?
- Are we living for God even if it scares us?
- Are we loving people enough to care about their eternity?
All I know is that when I read this devotional, I am reminded that God is never asking for the rich and famous, the beautiful and skilled, the exceptional and talented.
He asks for people to trust Him.
And we can do that.
And when we do that, God will stun us with the results. Maybe we won’t get to see the results here on earth as resoundingly as my friend has seen, but we will each see the full results in heaven, for sure!
Lord, give us eyes to see the possibilities and courage to open our nervous mouths.
“Now, Lord… enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.”
Steve Estes was a sixteen-year-old “nobody”; a paper boy, sitting across from me, his paralyzed neighbor who just got out of the hospital. He had heard from kids in high school that I had big questions about God since I had broken my neck; he came to visit and offer help. I noticed he was very nervous.
Many years later Steve would tell me, “Joni, when I sat across from you that first day, I was scared. You were out of my league. The crowd you ran with I saw only from across the gymnasium. Plus, I had never met another teenager in a wheelchair. I knew what the Bible said about your questions and a dozen passages came to mind from years of church. But sitting across from you in your wheelchair, I realized I had never test-driven those truths on such a difficult course. Nothing worse than a D in Algebra had ever happened to me. But I kept thinking, if the Bible can’t work in this paralyzed girl’s life–it never was for real. So I cleared my throat and jumped off the cliff. I remember telling you, ‘God put you in that chair, Joni. I don’t know why, but if you will trust Him instead of fighting Him, you’ll find out why–if not in this life, then in the next. He let you break your neck, and He has good reasons. I want to help you find out what those reasons are!”
It was a bold thing for Steve to say to me, but his courage peaked my interest. From that day on, I had my nose in the Bible, searching for God’s wisdom. In what ways do you lack boldness for Christ? Ask God to give you fresh courage to share His Word with those in need.
You are the Word of Life, Lord Jesus. Help me to speak Your words with boldness yet kindness; courage mixed with compassion. Speak through me this day!
Pearls of Great Price
Copyright © 2006
by Joni Eareckson Tada
Published in print by Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible: New International Version.
© 2016 by Oaks Ministries. All rights reserved.
Laurie, This is the second time in a row where I’m using something from your blog to minister to others! Tomorrow when I start up a group of youth in praying for revival at our school, I plan to inspire them with Steve and Joni’s story. Thank you!
So nice to know my “random” topics are usable for His Kingdom…what I pray when I hit the publish button. So cool.