Many years ago, a young teenage girl dived into the pool for a swim and felt her head hit something hard just as her body went out of control. This was an experience that was to change the course of her life forever. She ended up spending three and a half months in hospital undergoing a series of surgeries. By the time she was discharged, she left the hospital as a total quadriplegic! That is, she had lost the use of her two arms and both legs and was paralyzed from her neck downwards. According to her, at that time she had two choices- to end her life or to choose to live. She chose to live, and not only has she lived for over forty years since her accident, but she has lived a life of influence and impact making a difference everywhere she finds herself. Her name is Joni Eareckson Tada- world renowned painter, writer, highly sought after speaker and a radio host. She is also the founder of a ministry called Joni & friends which is raised to offer support services and financial aid to disabled people all over the world.
What would make a young teenage girl who has lost the use of every part of her body at a time when girls her age are taking countless trips to the movies, shopping malls and parties chose to live and not to die? The answer is simple. It can be found in some words she spoke at a time…’I do not know what lies ahead. But I do know who I am. I have a dream, and I know where I am going…’ She understood that her life was beyond what had happened to her body and limbs, but was about who she was as a person, the purpose of God for her life and the dreams and visions in her heart. As a result of this understanding, she began to live her life on purpose and has made an impact on her generation.
Dear reader, the question is- Do you know who you are? Do you know God’s purpose for your life? Do you have an idea of what lies ahead for you? Do you know where you are going? Do you know that as a child of God, you are fearfully and wonderfully made? Do you know that no matter the circumstances of your birth or the condition you have now found yourself, that you are on a mission. You have been created to make a difference wherever you find yourself. You have been uniquely packaged to shine as light in the midst of the darkness. You have been divinely ordained to be a city set upon a hill. You have been destined to make a difference in your area of influence, no matter how small. Remember, everywhere Jesus went He made a difference. This should also be your own testimony as a child of God.
How then can one make a difference in the midst of the overwhelming challenges and problems surrounding us all?
- It begins with a choice and a decision. You cannot rise above your decisions in life. Your decisions will determine your thoughts and subsequently your actions. Daniel began by purposing in his heart not to defile himself with the King’s meat, and this determined his stand when the offer was made to him.
- Look out for problems and challenges, not so that you can analyse them, but so that you can bring solutions to problems. One of the fastest ways to be a person of impact is to be a problem solver. This took the likes of Joseph, Daniel, David to the very top in their day.
- Be committed to leaving people better than you meet them. In essence, by the time a person leaves your presence, he or she should have a better feeling about him/herself. This could be through the words and the counsel you give. Speak only words that will encourage, edify and motivate people. This will make you unforgettable to anyone that comes your way.
- Take out time to look out for the welfare of others. Ask questions like what can I do to make things better for people? How can I help people? How can I make a difference in people’s lives? This could begin with your spouse, your children, your siblings, co workers and so on.
- Take the attention away from yourself, your needs, your challenges but rather focus on others around you and their needs. This was one of the principles that helped Joni in her life. She took her attention away from the misfortune she had suffered rather, she focused on helping other disabled persons cope with their own challenges. As a result of this, she has found purpose, personal fulfillment and global impact beyond her imagination. In the words of American Motivational speaker- Zig Ziglar ‘…What you make happen for others, God will make happen for you…
- Develop a positive attitude towards life. Leadership expert John Maxwell describes attitude as ‘inward feeling expressed by outward behaviour’. In his book ‘The difference maker’, he notes that “your attitude makes a difference in your approach in life and in your relationship with people.” A negative attitude towards people makes your life repulsive towards them, while a positive attitude makes you appealing. To develop a positive attitude therefore, change your thinking and get rid of negative thoughts. Negative thoughts such as envy, jealousy, unforgiveness, bitterness, strife, offences and the like would only pollute and corrupt you.
- Above all, get connected to The greatest difference maker of all- Jesus Christ of Nazareth!
Check out the kind of difference He made while He walked on the surface of the earth “…He went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed of the devil, for God was with Him…(Acts 10:38)
May this be your testimony even long after you have left this world in Jesus name. God bless!