Today I've been listening to a new CD I got while we were in California at Joni and Friends International Headquarters. One song "When Pretty Things Get Broken" by Joni Eareckson Tada is hauntingly beautiful and reminiscent of her own life:
My life was just like china, a lovely thing to me,
Full of porcelain promises of all that I might be.
But fragile things do slip and fall as ev'rybody knows,
And when my vase came crashing down those tears began to flow.
But don't we all cry when pretty things get broken?
Don't we all sigh at such an awful loss?
Jesus will dry those tears as He has spoken
'Cause He was the One broken on the cross.
But Jesus is the Porcelain Prince.
His promises won't break.
His holy Word holds fast and sure.
His love no one can shake.
So if your life is shattered by sorrow, pain or sin,
His healing love will reach right down and make you whole again.
Joni Eareckson Tada is a beautiful woman. She is beautiful inside and out! Is her body broken? Yes! For more than 41 years she's been in a wheelchair. It's not easy. There is even pain that a quadriplegic feels deep in the bones and gut apparently, but Joni is NOT a broken woman! And Jesus is the reason! He has restored her heart and given her a song and a beautiful smile even on those days when that chair and the pain are almost too much.
I remember that September Saturday afternoon in 1977 when my neck was broken. I was out running errands. The trunk of my new car was actually filled with greenware (porcelain in its green state ready to be prepared for firing). The greenware was actually the pieces for many nativity sets I planned to paint to be Christmas gifts for my brothers, sisters and parents. The car came out of nowhere from behind and hit me full force when I was stopped in traffic. My car crunched. I crunched. The greenware crunched. Greenware isn't a pretty thing. It's just in the process of becoming a pretty thing. Most of what was in my trunk was shattered into powder. It never would be what it could have been.
My story turns out better (at least physically) than Joni's but only by the grace of God. Actually I think our necks broke in almost the same place which makes my story even more remarkable. Why did God protect me from paralysis and allow Joni to be in a wheelchair? Well, I don't have all of that answer. BUT what I know is that God is good all the time. God was with Joni in the Chesapeake Bay 41 years ago, and God was with me that Saturday afternoon. Very few people know my name and story, but people all over the world know and love Joni just because she is in that chair! God has used her life and ministry in incredible ways mostly because she is paralyzed.
But more significant than that is the story of what God has done in both Joni's heart and mine over the years. God has taken brokenness and brought restoration. God gives grace for each and every day no matter what happens.
God has powerfully demonstrated that He uses the weak things (and people) to demonstrate His incredible strength to a world dying for need of restoration in both Joni's life and mine. God has proved His faithfulness to us both. God has made His promise true: "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision (substitute "paralysis") or uncircumcision (substitute "not paralysis") has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself in love." (Galatians 5:6)
"Faith expressing itself in love" is the true demonstration of heart restoration!