I’ve been following Joni Eareckson’s life for many years.
Joni was seventeen years old when a diving accident put her in a wheelchair, as a quadriplegic. After two years of rehabilitation, she developed new skills and a fresh determination to help others in similar situations. I have always been inspired by her creativity, her hope and her daily dependence on God. Despite all the daily physical limitations, she leads an international Christian ministry for people with disabilities and she is a popular speaker, best selling author and acclaimed artist.
She is a gifted woman with a sustaining faith in God.
Joni is now 65 years old. She has prayed for but not received a miraculous healing. She suffers with chronic pain and more recently, was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy. Yet, she perseveres.
It’s her fortitude that is so inspiriting.
“As I have learned to do after four and a half decades in this wheelchair, put it behind you. It’s in the past. Start where you are. This is the new baseline and get on with living.”
Haven’t we all had to acknowledge “a new baseline” at some point in our lives?
I know I have. Life has seldom unfolded the way I have thought it should…and to be honest, I am very thankful for this. Time after time, I have been reminded that His thoughts are not my thoughts and His ways are not my ways. (Isaiah 55.8,9) I am willing to move into spaces that are unsettling and unsure with less kicking and screaming these days because I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good. (Psalm 34.8) I know that old ways don’t open new doors.
This is one of Joni’s favourite quotes.
In perplexities–when we cannot tell what to do, when we cannot understand what is going on around us, let us be calmed and steadied and made patient by the thought that what is hidden from us is not hidden from Him. Frances Ridley Haverga
Joni has learned to be grateful for her suffering because of the way it keeps her longing for Christ…
…and God, in His omnipotence and love, keeps opening doors into new places for her.
What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death. Philippians 3.8,10 NIV