Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada with a special announcement.
This Sunday is going to be quite something because the newly digitized Joni movie is going to be premiered here in Southern California. It’s all a part of marking 50 years since the accident in which I broke my neck. You may recall seeing the Joni movie years ago back in the late 70s or early 80s. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association had asked me to play my own part in the film. Now I was only in my mid-20’s and I did not know anything about acting. But I figured that if the real person said the real thing to people struggling with real problems, it could have a real impact. And so I went ahead and I did the movie. Believe me, it was not glamorous, and I really struggled having to recreate so many heartbreaking moments, but after the film was completed and released. I was ever so glad. Yes, that was behind me, but especially glad when ultimately more than 250,000 decisions for Christ were logged after showing the Joni movie across the country. And when the Billy Graham people translated it into eight languages—including Arabic and Chinese—untold thousands more opened their hearts to Jesus.
You know, my whole point in doing that film was to reach people who feel utterly defeated by their trials. Like me in those early scenes in the Joni movie, they feel overwhelmed by disappointments that totally alter their lives. Even Christians feel that way. And I wanted the Joni movie to convey a message of hope to those who feel hopeless. People for whom depression settles over them like a thick blanket of darkness, and you can’t see any light or any hope or any answer. In the Joni film, it shows those early days when my paralysis left me groping in the dark, unable to see anything from God’s point of view. But it also shows how I was helped by digging deeper into God’s Word. I was especially helped by Isaiah chapter 50, verse 10. Listen to this: “Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God.” In the Joni movie—for that matter in my own life—I was never able to piece together the puzzle of my suffering in order to make sense of it all. What I did was reach out in the dark with hope and trust, and what do you know? In the dark, I found the hand of God. No answers to my questions, no neatly packaged replies to all my inquiries, no blueprint of a plan or a finished puzzle that made sense, no rather, my hope and trust led to the God of all hope. And He became my light in the darkness.
So this coming Sunday when the newly digitized Joni movie is shown, I want you to join me in praying that many will come to Christ. And if you are interested in showing the film to your unchurched friends, you can always visit our on-line store at joniandfriends.org. Join me in celebrating the goodness and faithfulness of God through five decades of His grace sustaining me in my wheelchair. And showing the Joni movie to your children or at your church is, well, it’s just another way of shining the light of Christ. And finally friend, if you are struggling or depressed or in pain, if darkness is all you see and you can’t see any light, any hope in your situation, reach out, trust in the name of the Lord. The name that says that He is your Defender, Deliverer, Helper and Healer. Hold on to Him in the dark, and you will find your way back to the light. Really, you will.
Let me hear from you today on my Facebook page or you can always post a comment on my blog at joniandfriends.org.