Joni Eareckson Tada became a quadriplegic when she dived into shallow waters. Painful though the experience was, it turned her life around and made her lean on God more. The more she leaned on Him, the stronger she discovered He was.

Joni has been a great role model for me. I’ve known about her from 1979 when I read a book about her. I’ve since taught her story to Sunday School kids. I’ve read a couple of her books. Her life has helped me keep my miniscule problems in perspective.

She is an artist and paints with her mouth. She writes books. The proceeds from all this goes to Joni and Friends International Disability Center.

Oh, and does she sing! Our family loves listening to the hymns sung by the foursome— Joni, John MacArthur, and the Wolgemuths.  In New Zealand, you can order these from Grace to you, New Zealand.  The books that come with these CDs are well worth the price.

Joni has a beautiful voice. Many years ago I had one of Joni’s song tapes. Why even right now, after all these years I can still hear her sing Joni’s Waltz written by Nancy Honeytree.

Though I spend my mortal lifetime in this chair,
I refuse to waste it living in despair.
And though others may receive
Gifts of healing, I believe
That He has given me a gift beyond compare….
For heaven is nearer to me,
And at times it is all I can see.
Sweet music I hear
Coming down to my ear;
And I know that it’s playing for me.

For I am Christ the Savior’s own bride,
And redeemed I shall stand by His side.
He will say, “Shall we dance?”
And our endless romance
Will be worth all the tears I have cried.
I rejoice with him whose pain my Savior heals.
And I weep with him who still his anguish feels.
But earthly joys and earthly tears,
Are confined to earthly years.
And a greater good the Word of God reveals.

In this life we have a cross that we must bear;
A tiny part of Jesus’ death that we can share.
And one day we’ll lay it down,
For He has promised us a crown,
To which our suffering can never be compared

In an interview with Larry King on 3 August 2004, Joni said:

And I can’t wait go to Heaven, and I look forward to Heaven so much, because not only will I paint murals, but I’ll have back use of my hands, and I really will jump up, dance, kick, aerobics. And I hope I can take this wheelchair to Heaven with me. I know, if you had Pastor John MacArthur here, he’d say that’s not biblically correct. And it’s not. But if I could, I would take it with me and I would be standing next to my savior Jesus Christ, and I would say, “Lord, do you see this wheelchair? Well, before you send it to hell, I want to tell you something about it. You were right, when you said, in this world we would have trouble. And there’s a lot of trouble being a quadriplegic, but you know what, 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. Thank you for the bruising of a blessing it was, this severe mercy. Thank you.

And when asked about 9/11 in particular and bad things happening to us in general, she said:

That’s a tragedy, to be sure. And I look at that and I think: What has God done here? And when I look back at 9/11 — and I don’t know all — who am I? I don’t know reasons why.

If God told us the reasons why anyway, it would be like probably pouring million gallon truths into our one-ounce brains. We couldn’t contain it all. But when I look at national tragedies or even personal tragedies, sometimes I think these things are like God’s way of, like, wake-up calls, like yellow lights blinking, like red flags waving.

Like what are you doing with your life? Where are you going? Do you not know that this parade of life as you enjoy it is not going to last forever? And what will you do when you face the other side of your tombstone?

And it’s the — I think suffering is God’s way of sometimes waking us up out of our spiritual slumber with an ice-cold splash in the face and getting us seriously to consider his claims, who he is and where we’re going. (Click here for entire transcript)