It was not a typical Sunday morning for Joni Eareckson. Sure, she was in her regular place along the stage-right aisle at Grace Community Church, halfway back…parked near a few others in wheelchairs. And the worship music had been glorious…hymns Joni could sing along with…which she did. Enthusiastically and without consulting the hymnal. All the verses. Normal so far.
The part that wasn’t typical was that the pastor/teacher of Grace Church, Dr. John MacArthur, was away. A pinch hitter was filling in. And although he was giving it his best, it wasn’t…uh…well, it just wasn’t John MacArthur.
Joni tried to focus on what was being preached, but her mind began to hopelessly slide. Perhaps the past few days had been a little more hectic than usual. Maybe she and her ministry team had stayed out a little longer than they should have at dinner the night before. Or maybe the volunteers who had come that morning to get Joni up, bathed and dressed had come a little too early. Whatever the reason, Joni fought drowsiness.
Caught in a truly awkward situation and not wanting to make a scene, Joni began to pray. It would be a worthy exercise to pass the time. This is something she of-ten did at night when she’d waken with nowhere to go and no wakeful person on duty to help her.
Joni knew that the week ahead was going to be a busy one, including some air travel. That’s something I can pray about, she mused. And so she did.
Next, Joni decided to look around…carefully, of course, so as not to be accused of not paying attention, looking for folks seated in the congregation. “Lord, is there someone I should pray for?” she whispered almost loud enough to be detected by those close by.
She scanned the people sitting in front of her and spotted the back of a man’s head a few rows closer to the front of the church.
“Okay, Lord,” Joni prayed, “Please bless that man up there with the straight black hair. Thank You for him, protect him and, if You will, please prosper him for Your glory.” She prayed for his family, his work, his friends and interests. Oddly, she found it easy to pray for this man she didn’t know… which made her wonder, Lord, why have you put him so strongly on my heart? I can’t even see his face… don’t know his name.
This was the first time Joni would be thanking her Heavenly Father for Ken Tada. It surely wouldn’t be the last.
And since 1982, when Joni and Ken were married, Ken Tada has been a colleague and full partner in Joni’s life and ministry.
He also prays for Joni.