(Below are Jessica's thoughts on Chapter 11 of Never Give Up! by Joyce Meyer. I've chosen to selectively address the points which impacted me the most. Please know that what we all learn from a study is usually different. Therefore we ask, if you feel like it please share in the comments section what you got out of the reading as well. We're sure you'll lift someone's spirit.)
I don't know about you but I'm always a little bit uneasy when I'm driving somewhere new for the first time. I've always been good at reading maps, have a good sense of direction, and now benefit from the invention of the GPS. Still, there are always the thoughts of getting lost, not getting where I need to be on time, getting stuck in traffic or somewhere it isn't safe. Prior to autism and special needs, every doctor my children saw was no more than fifteen minutes from our home. First, we brought my son to a pediatric allergist who was 30 minutes away. Gradually, more doctors were added to our agenda. For the past year, we sought out the help of a neurodevelopmental pediatrician who was 145 miles from our home. Last month, we drove to bring him to a specialist that was over 600 miles away. There are always challenges to work out, but we always arrive at our destination safe and sound. This is just one of many ways that autism has forced me out of my comfort zone. Each step takes us in a new direction that helps us to bring him closer to health and healing.
Never in my life have I needed to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit as much as I do now. I often feel bombarded by potential ways to help my son and could easily not know where my focus should be. Though I have learned alot in my two years into the autism journey, there is still so much more that I want to know about. As I work to find and put together all the missing pieces, I must also muddle through the day-to-day stressors of sick children, regressions, school/therapist issues, sustaining my marriage, keeping up with my home and whatever else life throws at me. On page 155, Joyce states, "We have dreams and goals that we want to pursue, but we also need solutions to the challenges that we experience along the way. If we know what to do, then we need to do it; if we don't , then we have the privilege of trusting God to guide us."
In Try Something New, Joyce gives great examples from the Bible about the blessings of following God into new places in Joshua and in Moses. Moses was initially reluctant to speak out to Pharoah and tried to take action too quickly, out of God's timing. God worked with Moses over time and was able to use him to lead his people out of slavery and into freedom. Joshua was chosen by God to continue what Moses began and take the Israelites into the Promised Land. Through Joshua, the people followed God's will by following the ark of the covenant, which contained the ten commandments and manna.
Joyce reminds us that we "follow the ark" when we follow where the Holy Spirit leads us. (p. 156) She goes on to share insights to help determine whether we are following God's lead by suggesting: The first question we need to ask when we face a new situation is, "Is this God's will for me?" The second is "Do I have inner peace about this?" We also need to ask ourselves if we sense His presence in the new situation. If we believe it is God's will, we can trust God to provide everything we need each step of the way. (p. 156) Once we have discerned which path God wants us to take, we need to follow it by taking step after step in obedience. Sometimes this means going to God for guidance instead of getting a "consensus" from everyone in my life about what I should do, or as Joyce points out on page 159, being willing to say no to others or myself sometimes.
I have always been a "planner" and it doesn't take more than a mere suggestion to get my wheels turning and for me to try and "see" how it's all supposed to work out. Joyce put this in perspective for me on page 159, when she states, "We must be careful that we are not planning and praying that our plan will work, when we should be praying first and then following God's plan." Wow, I think that needs to be on my refrigerator.
It seems to me that the important thing to remember is that although it is often scary, we may feel inadequate or tempted to give up, and will most certainly have derailment attempts from the enemy, we must always remember that it is always best to do what God leads us to do. It is comforting to me to know that as I set out to do what sometimes feels like the impossible, God is with me and will finish what He has set out to accomplish.
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."
So we say with confidence,
"The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me?"
"The Lord is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped.
My heart leaps for joy
and I will give thanks to Him in song."