Joni's Diving Accident—45 Years

  • July 30, 2012
  • #7891

It’s been 45 years since Joni took that reckless dive in the Chesapeake Bay, leaving her paralyzed. Joni shares how she holds onto Psalm 105 and looks at the wonders God has done through her quadriplegia.

Hi, this is Joni Eareckson Tada and today is a big anniversary for me!

Okay, maybe anniversary is the wrong word here, but it was on today, July 30, 1967, that I took that dive in the Chesapeake Bay when I was a teenager and in an instant, my head struck the sandy bottom and I broke my neck. My sister, Kathy, rescued me from drowning and called for a swimmer to bring over his rubber raft. They laid me on it and dragged me up onto the beach. I was stunned: I was totally paralyzed, but I had no idea it would be permanent. And as they whisked me off to the hospital in an ambulance, never, ever would I have dreamed that I would be sitting here talking to you with a smile on my face 45 years later! Whew!

Friend, to me, that is a miracle, and it’s why today I'm looking to Psalm 105, verse 5 that says, “Remember the wonders He has done, His miracles, and the judgments He pronounced.” That’s what I'm doing today! It is a wonder that I'm able to smile not in spite of my quadriplegia, but because of it praise God for His grace that makes it possible and it’s a miracle that I am as healthy and fit as I am. Most quadriplegics don’t even survive for 45 years, and here I am still able to sit up and travel and go to work—that’s a miracle. I'm also remembering not only the wonders God has done, and His miracles, I'm remembering the judgments He’s pronounced. And just what is His judgment as it concerns my disability? Well, that it is good, very good. After all, God says in Jeremiah chapter 32, verse 41, “I will rejoice in doing them good … with all my heart and soul.” Wow! True, there’s no inherent goodness in my spinal cord injury; it is an awful thing, but wonderful, miracle-making God can take something awful in a life and pronounce it good through the application of His grace.

During those early days of my injury, when I was just getting my act together with the Lord and figuring out this quadriplegia thing, it was my artwork through which I expressed my thanks to God for what He was doing. Holding those brushes between my teeth, I began to paint bright and colorful landscapes and all sorts of flowers—everything bright and beautiful to reflect what God was doing in my heart through my wheelchair. In fact, I want you to celebrate with me today this anniversary. I have designed three brand new floral cards with envelopes and each card is a colorful expression of God's creative genius; the miraculous, wonderful way He makes all things fresh and new—yes, even a spinal cord injury. You can get your three floral cards by just visiting my radio page today at, or you can always write me at Joni and Friends, P.O. Box 3333, Agoura Hills, CA 91376 and we’ll get those cards and envelopes to you right away. Oh, and don’t let me forget on the back of each card is a painting that shows how I hold the brushes between my teeth, because the way I see it, if God can enable me to rise above my circumstances, what can’t He and His grace do in your life!

And finally, friend, may I challenge you to grab hold of Psalm 105 today? When it comes to your own life, think about and meditate on, and “Remember the wonders He has done, His miracles, and the judgments he pronounced.” Time and again, God purposes only good for your life. Like me in those early days when I was in the hospital, you might not see it at first, but wait on the Lord. His purpose is to do you good with all His heart and soul.

© Joni and Friends


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