Take a moment and envision the next 10 years of your life. What sort of accomplishments are you determined to achieve by then?
I bet a few of you immediately imagined the American Dream: A beautiful house, a couple of mini-you’s running barefoot on a perfectly kept lawn, while you and your dreamy significant other gaze admiringly at each other. Cheesy, I know. But I KNOW some of you went there!
Perhaps some of you are wanting to move up the professional ladder. After all, who doesn’t want their own office with a perfect view of the city? Or maybe there are a few of you who will agree with me in hoping that our student loans will have been paid off by then!! Please, Lord.
I know of a woman who, by the age of 67, became a founder and CEO of her own company, an internationally known painter, an author of 50 books, a radio host, starred in a film, visited over 47 countries and became an advocate for millions of people world-wide.
Shocking, I know. I’m over a third of a way to 67 right now and I’m not even CLOSE to achieving any one of those things!
But before I go on, there are a few things you weren’t aware of. You didn’t know that as a 17-year old athlete, she had a near-death experience when she dove head first into shallow water. You didn’t know that although she emerged from the incident alive, she was paralyzed from the shoulders down, leaving her a quadriplegic for the rest of her life. You didn’t know that it was only AFTER these events took place that she accomplished all of the successes I mentioned before. And you definitely didn’t know that even after all of these things, 6 years ago, she was diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer and has STILL continued serving the Lord through her ministry working with other people with disabilities around the world.
Joni Eareckson Tada has inspired people all over the world with her incredible story – I mean, how can she not?! With all that she has gone through, she has emerged stronger and more on fire for the Lord than ever. While her near-death experience will always be a part of her story, it was how she moved forward AFTER the incident that has touched lives around the globe.
We can’t predict our futures. As hard as we may try, it just isn’t possible to keep ourselves and all of our loved ones in a safe “bubble” of protection. The truth of the matter is, anything can happen to any one of us at any time, and each of us has to be aware of that.
Many of us are so afraid of having to deal with tragedies in life that we forget about one important truth that believers can rest on – God is working even through the worst tragedies.
In Joni’s case, through life’s biggest blow, God used her in amazing ways to serve Him worldwide. Her body may not have been able to cooperate, but her heart was focused on something much greater than her disability.
“Just as you do not know the path of the wind and how bones are formed in the womb of the pregnant woman, so you do not know the activity of God who makes all things.” | Ecclesiastes 11:5 NASB
Isn’t it amazing to think that God is in charge of how the wind blows or how He is the one developing a baby in its mother’s belly? Those are a couple of things in life that we have no control of. But He does. And not only is He in control, He’s also carefully guiding each of them in His hands. Even when seemingly terrible things happen around us, we can take comfort in knowing that our God cares so much about His children, and wants to help us through the uncertainties of life, as long as we are willing to let Him use us for good.
No, there isn’t any way of telling when disaster will strike, but it’s the way that we respond to the uncertainties in life that can make all of the difference. The goals that we have set for ourselves don’t have to stop because of unfortunate circumstances that have happened to us. With God’s help, we can use those circumstances to do so much more with our lives and for His Kingdom than we could have ever possibly imagined. Now THAT is a long-term goal worth mentioning!