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"CLOSER TO THE OTHER SIDE"--Joni Eareckson Tada

Joni Eareckson Tada is a woman who has experienced a lot of suffering. Paralyzed from the shoulders down after a tragic diving accident as a teenager, Joni often wanted to die instead of working to live and overcome her disabilities. She still lives in pain every day. But God has given her a world-wide ministry that she could never have dreamed of before her accident. And she has proven faithful through it all.

This week she wrote a wonderful devotional. She titles it, "Closer to the Other Side". She tells about something that happened to her recently -- something that for most of us would be rather mundane, but to her it spoke of something far deeper.

She writes, "For me in this wheelchair, shampooing my hair requires parking in front of my bathroom sink, leaning forward, and letting my friend Dana 'go at it' as she stands to one side and lathers my hair. 'Joni, would you like me to wash your face while you're under the faucet?' she asked. 'Sure,' I gurgled. She took her soapy hands and began lathering my cheeks, using the flat of her fingers to gently wash around my eyes. I gasped. 'Am I hurting you?' Dana asked. 'Oh, no, not at all!' I said. 'Please... please keep going!' How could I explain? For that brief moment, it felt as though her hands were mine! She was rubbing my face exactly the way I used to do with my own hands, decades ago. Those few brief moments were about as close as I've ever felt to being healed!

When we finished, Dana patted my face and hair dry with a towel. She also had to wipe away my tears. But they weren't tears of sadness or regret. They were tears of joy about the future. I told her, 'This was a reminder that soon I will be able to wash my own face with new, glorified hands!'"

Then Joni said, "There is less distance between me and the future than me and the past, before I was injured. I have come to the place where a memory can push me joyfully into the future rather than pull me somberly back into a sad past. Because we are believers, the future has a happy, magnetic pull on our hearts. Take just few minutes today (maybe while you're on a walk in the sunlight) to think about the new, marvelous, perfect, immortal body that awaits you -- really, just a few years away on the Other Side.

She ends with the scripture that says, "I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus has taken hold of me." (Philippians 3:13). And then she prays: "Lord how good you are! The promises you have given us for that radiant tomorrow help us walk through the darkest of days on this side of heaven."

(From a sermon by Rodney Buchanan, Take Up Your Cross and Follow, 8/29/2011)

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