It’s been said that it takes 21 days to create a habit.
Twenty-one days to eat better,
to drink more water,
to read the Bible.
Just 21 days.
But for Joni Eareckson Tada, 21 days came and went with the kind of casual fleeting you’d find in a summer vacation or a Christmas break. Left bobbing in the wake of her own making, a diving accident 52 years ago created more than a routine, but rather a cascading grace that - to this day - connects millions of people.
Whether it’s through her retreats for families impacted by special needs, to her curriculum for churches in need of content, Joni has made a habit out of helping people find diamonds in their disability and God’s sovereignty in suffering.
Truth be told and forever bonded, the recipients of the gift of mobility may never meet Joni herself. They may never hear her high-pitched, joy-filled voice. They will likely never see her face-to-face, share a meal or join her in song. But on their respective dusty roads of obscurity, amid languages as diverse as the cultures they represent, they look down and push the wheels of their chairs and somehow they touch her and she feels it.
She says, “In John chapter five, the Lord was at the Pool of Bethesda, and He stopped by a man over a straw mat who had been paralyzed for thirty-eight years, and it says, “When Jesus learned he had been in this condition for a long time.” Now, when I read those words, “a long time,” tears fill my eyes, because if Jesus thinks 38 years of paralysis is a long time, what does He think of fifty-two? I think Jesus probably says it’s a long time, and so do I. Seems that deep trials bring the deep grace of God.”
Feel free to read that paragraph again, but it’s a divine irony. I moved to Los Angeles nearly two decades ago as the most published fitness expert in the nation to work for a man who was the best at building and shaping muscle. Now I serve at the pleasure of a woman who can’t move a one.
Alistair Begg says, “Sow a thought, reap an action. Sow an action, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap a character. Sow a character, reap a destiny.”
That’s all I want to do. I want to reap. In however many days I have remaining, I want to make a habit out of helping.
- Jimmy Peña
My Recent Podcasts with Joni and Friends:
In case you missed either of these, I was blessed to join the podcast at Joni and Friends to talk about chronic pain , insomnia and the crisis of identity. If you suffer, you may be blessed. Or if you have someone in your life that may be in need of encouragement, please pass them along.
Chronic Pain & Insomnia
Identity After Loss of It