Always Swimming Upstream (Psalm 71)

“Ten words have set the course for my life:
God permits what he hates to accomplish what he loves.”
—Joni Eareckson Tada

On a Sunday afternoon, 50 years ago (7/30/67), 17-year-old Joni Eareckson had a diving accident in Chesapeake Bay. (Her whole life changed in an instant.) Her head hit the sandy bottom, causing a fracture between the 4th and 5th cervical levels. She was paralyzed from the shoulders down. Her 1976 memoir, Joni: The Unforgettable Story of a Young Woman’s Struggle Against Quadriplegia & Depression, became a bestseller. In 1979 her autobiography was turned into a film and she founded Joni and Friends, a Christian ministry in the global disabled community. In 1982, at age 32, she married Ken Tada, a quiet, godly, servant-hearted man. In 2010, she was diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer, undergoing a mastectomy and chemotherapy. She is a tireless advocate for those who suffer from various disabilities, and she has taught the church about how to serve them. She loves to sing hymns and to paint [using her mouth to hold paintbrush], and uses her artistic gifts to encourage, edify, and instruct. 

She is whole-life, pro-life, from conception to the grave. Christian bioethics has few advocates more articulate and compelling. 

When historians talk of “Evangelicals,” they may think of Falwell and Wallis. Let us think instead of Joni Eareckson Tada—of whom the world is not worthy.

Message title: Always Swimming Upstream (Psalm 71)
Eighth week in Summer Psalms
Scriptures: Psalm 71
Preacher: Jeff Patterson
Date: 7/30/17

Listen or download:

The shorter clip is a meditation on God’s righteousness, which promotes both His justice and His compassion.


“Those blessings are sweetest that are won with prayer and worn with thanks.” 
― Thomas Goodwin

“If we look to created things to give us the meaning, hope and happiness that only God Himself can give, it will eventually break our hearts.” 
—Timothy Keller

“Ten words have set the course for my life: God permits what he hates to accomplish what he loves.” —Joni Eareckson Tada

Story Catechism this week is on belonging to Christ through the Gospel (chapter 15):

Remember, it is God’s desire that man and woman would always be with Him.
So Jesus never stops pursuing.
Jesus puts the broken pieces back together.
And offers us rest and belonging.
Jesus is the way back home.

Scripture readings:

1 Thessalonians 1:1-10 (ESV)

Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,

To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:

Grace to you and peace.

We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothersloved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.

Psalm 71 (ESV)

71 In you, O Lord, do I take refuge;
    let me never be put to shame!
In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me;
    incline your ear to me, and save me!
Be to me a rock of refuge,
    to which I may continually come;
you have given the command to save me,
    for you are my rock and my fortress.

Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked,
    from the grasp of the unjust and cruel man.
For you, O Lord, are my hope,
    my trust, O Lord, from my youth.
Upon you I have leaned from before my birth;
    you are he who took me from my mother’s womb.
My praise is continually of you.

I have been as a portent to many,
    but you are my strong refuge.
My mouth is filled with your praise,
    and with your glory all the day.
Do not cast me off in the time of old age;
    forsake me not when my strength is spent.
10 For my enemies speak concerning me;
    those who watch for my life consult together
11 and say, “God has forsaken him;
    pursue and seize him,
    for there is none to deliver him.”

12 O God, be not far from me;
    O my God, make haste to help me!
13 May my accusers be put to shame and consumed;
    with scorn and disgrace may they be covered
    who seek my hurt.
14 But I will hope continually
    and will praise you yet more and more.
15 My mouth will tell of your righteous acts,
    of your deeds of salvation all the day,
    for their number is past my knowledge.
16 With the mighty deeds of the Lord God I will come;
    I will remind them of your righteousness, yours alone.

17 O God, from my youth you have taught me,
    and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.
18 So even to old age and gray hairs,
    O God, do not forsake me,
until I proclaim your might to another generation,
    your power to all those to come.
19 Your righteousness, O God,
    reaches the high heavens.
You who have done great things,
    O God, who is like you?
20 You who have made me see many troubles and calamities
    will revive me again;
from the depths of the earth
    you will bring me up again.
21 You will increase my greatness
    and comfort me again.

22 I will also praise you with the harp
    for your faithfulness, O my God;
I will sing praises to you with the lyre,
    O Holy One of Israel.
23 My lips will shout for joy,
    when I sing praises to you;
    my soul also, which you have redeemed.
24 And my tongue will talk of your righteous help all the day long,
for they have been put to shame and disappointed
    who sought to do me hurt.

Audio for this teaching may be played above, and is included in the RENEW Church podcastsubscribe in iTunes here, or access the church podcast feed directly here.

This year each of us is invited on an adventure to build an altar to God each new day, to look up and love our Creator first. What will be your plan to develop a new rhythm of seeking God each day? » Find some help here.

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