I took this picture a couple of years ago while my family and I were taking in some sights while walking around Vancouver, Canada. One of the reasons the scene initially captured my attention was because the man sitting in a wheelchair immediately made me think of my dad.
I kind of wonder what the man in this picture was thinking about. Was he happy? Was he sad? Was he content? Was he worried?
When the photo popped up in my Facebook memories this morning, the same thing happened, memories of my dad and the stroke which confined him to a wheelchair for 4 years came to mind.
I then thought about an article I read yesterday, an interview with Joni Eareckson Tada. Tomorrow, July 30, marks the 50th anniversary of Joni being in a wheelchair after suffering a diving accident that rendered her a quadriplegic. I’ve always been inspired by Joni’s faith, perseverance and hope.
One my favorite parts of the interview is when she says this:
“Just the other day I was reading 1 Peter 5:10 [ESV], where Peter says, “After you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace … will himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you.” Honestly, I’m amazed that the last 50 years feel like only “a little while.” Maybe God does that when we finally do love Jesus more, when we finally do follow him more closely. Maybe he erases all the horror, all the despair, all the depression of the past when we learn how to trust God. He pushes into the background all the terrible times of anguish, and he brings forward the highlights—the moments of hope, peace, and growth. As I look back over 50 years, I just see God at work. That’s pretty exciting.”
“I just see God at work. That’s pretty exciting.”
I love that. She is not focused on what she has not been able to do in 50 years. She is not focused on what has been “taken away”. She is not focused on the pain. In fact, Joni doesn’t seem to be focused on herself at all. Instead, her eyes and heart are focused on a God who has never walked away and whose Hand is continually working in and through her situation.
For Joni, learning to love and follow Jesus more closely has dimmed the bad and highlighted the good.
She doesn’t see loss, she sees love.
She doesn’t see limitations, she sees life.
Lord, give us eyes to just see You at work. Satisfy our hearts and fill us with the joy that comes from watching You work.