This morning my beautiful friend, Kerry Rheeder, featured in the photo below, shared a devotional message. I found her story very inspirational and thought I’d share it with you.
Scripture Reading …
Revelation 21: 3-4: 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Joni Erikson Tada is an inspirational woman of God who is a motivational speaker and advocate for disabled people. She has also written fourteen books and recorded several musical albums, achieving all this as a quadriplegic from a wheelchair. As a teenager, while swimming with some friends, Joni dove into a lake not knowing how shallow it really was. She broke her neck, paralyzing her body from the neck down. For the next two years during her rehabilitation, Joni struggled. She struggled with life, she struggled with God, and she struggled with her paralysis.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t like being in those seasons of struggle and paralysis, and I know that some of us are in that season right now. For many years I found myself in a season of illness, which I really struggled with. My body completely rejected itself and I was a regular at casualty suffering from severe allergic reactions caused by an unknown cause. Some weeks I would be in casualty at least twice a week and I had to carry an epi pen with me at all times.
At times it was so severe that I had to be admitted. After my second stint of two weeks in hospital, an allergist was called in and I was put on organ transplant medicine for the next two years. However, that was not the end…the struggle continued and I just didn’t understand it. I ended up having my gall bladder, a third of my colon and my appendix removed in quick succession. Literally six months apart every time. I went into severe anaphylactic shock during the appendix operation and died twice and had to be resuscitated. Apparently they struggled for quite a while to restart my heart.
My blood vessels leaked from the shock and I ended up with internal bleeding. I was given a blood transfusion and put in ICU with a poor prognosis of surviving the night since my whole body had literally shut down. My best friend who was living in England at the time was advised to get on a plane immediately if she wanted a chance to say good-bye.
I can’t remember much of that time, except friends filing in to say good-bye and the Anesthetist standing over me in the ICU with tears streaming down his face. I also remember somebody praying for me and it was the most beautiful sound that I have ever heard. The surgeon later hugged me and said to me, “You should not be alive. You are a walking miracle.” I know that it was that prayer that changed everything for me. I was not a Christian and had no Christian background whatsoever, but I knew with certainty that God had spared my life. That became a turning point for me.
That hard season of suffering had been used by the Lord to touch the stone heart of an unbeliever and I am so thankful for that. It was the first time that I really had a full awareness of the Lord. God used something so ugly and began a journey of changing a heart to one that can’t live without Him. Today I can honestly say I would gladly go through it again because having Jesus in my life is worth everything.
The point is that we never know why God allows certain things in our lives but we can be sure that He will use it.
I really find this excerpt from Joni very encouraging and I hope that you will too:
I sure hope I can bring this wheelchair to heaven.
Now, I know that’s not theologically correct.
But I hope to bring it and put it in a little corner of heaven, and then in my new, perfect, glorified body, standing on grateful glorified legs, I’ll stand next to my Savior, holding his nail-pierced hands.
I’ll say, “Thank you, Jesus,” and he will know that I mean it, because he knows me.
He’ll recognize me from the fellowship we’re now sharing in his sufferings.
And I will say, ”Jesus, do you see that wheelchair? You were right when you said that in this world we would have trouble, because that thing was a lot of trouble. But the weaker I was in that thing, the harder I leaned on you. And the harder I leaned on you, the stronger I discovered you to be. It never would have happened had you not given me the bruising of the blessing of that wheelchair.”
Then the real ticker-tape parade of praise will begin. And all of earth will join in the party.
And at that point Christ will open up our eyes to the great fountain of joy in his heart for us beyond all that we ever experienced on earth.
And when we’re able to stop laughing and crying, the Lord Jesus really will wipe away our tears.
I find it so poignant that finally at the point when I do have the use of my arms to wipe away my own tears, I won’t have to, because God will.
So my question to you this morning is what wheelchair will you will place in your corner of heaven? And are you letting Jesus use your wheelchair to draw you closer to Him? Are you leaning on Him in your struggle and letting His amazing love comfort you? Our precious Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself says it best in John 16:33: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”