Exchange the Meaning

  • March 26, 2012
  • #7801

Joni shares how when God uses for His glory the most ordinary things, He gives each one special meaning.

Hi I'm Joni Eareckson Tada and thanks for spending this time with me – ‘cause I know you've got lots of other stuff you could be doing, but that you choose to listen, well… It means a lot. And… one small word of Scripture can mean so much more. I was reading the other day in the book of Exodus, and I noticed that when God parted the Red Sea, He told Moses in Exodus chapter 14 to “raise your staff.” Of course, you know the story from there – Moses did as he was commanded, the Red Sea split right down the middle. And you know… I can just picture, I can just imagine the expression on Moses' face when he looked at that staff, because after that glorious miracle, Moses no longer considered it his staff. Proof of that is just a chapter later in Exodus 17 when he was talking to Joshua right before they went into battle. And Moses said, "Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with a staff of God in my hands."

Funny how God took an ordinary shepherd’s staff – nothing special about it; at least up until they found themselves up against the Red Sea. But when God worked his miraculous power through that ordinary stick of wood, it became set apart. It became separate, it was sanctified. That’s what it means “to be set apart”. The staff was now sanctified by God to be used only for His purposes. And so Moses referred to it as “the staff of God.” When the Lord chooses something for His tool, it takes on new ownership; it takes on new meaning.

It’s what happens when ordinary things are offered up to the Lord. God can even exchange the tragic meaning behind accidents or injuries for something new and positive. The cross I think is a good example. It was a symbol of torture and pain – but when the Son of God was nailed to it, it became sanctified, it became separate. It took on new ownership – it became the cross of Christ, and with that new meaning. No longer was a symbol of torture, the cross today, represents hope and salvation.

And you know it’s the same in my life. For me, my ordinary old wheelchair, I believe, has been sanctified, has been set apart for a special use. At one time, my wheelchair may have been a symbol of tragedy and confinement. But as I yielded it to the Lord, His marvelous power began to work. And now, my wheelchair is not only that which gives me freedom and mobility; I tell you what, it’s a platform, it’s a pulpit, it’s a launching pad for reaching other people with disabilities with the love of Christ.

When God uses for His glory the most ordinary things—a staff, a cross, or a wheelchair—He gives each one special meaning. So friend, think of the ordinary things in your life that you can give to God for His use. Maybe they are symbols of tragedy in your life, like a crutch or a walker. Trust me – no, trust God – He would appreciate you giving him the ownership because in so doing, you exchange the meaning for something hopeful. God did it at the Cross, He did it with my wheelchair, and He can do it for you.

You know, I just know that someone listening has had this happen in their lives. God has sanctified some heartbreak of yours, and now He’s doing a wonderful thing to encourage others through your circumstance. Tell me about it today on my radio page – just go to and let me know what ordinary thing you’ve presented to Him… tell me how God is using it to bless others. It may have been yours before… but separated and sanctified by the Spirit, it’s now God's.

© Joni and Friends

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