(Below are Jessica's thoughts on the Introduction, Day 1 and Day 2 ofby . Please know that what we all learn from a study is usually different. Therefore, we encourage you to share your thoughts and what you've learned in the comments section below each post. We're sure you'll lift someone's spirit.)
The Purpose Driven Life is divided into 40 chapters, to be covered over 40 days. As mentioned in Journey With A Purpose, the Bible repeatedly mentions 40 days a s a spiritually significant period of time. Some examples from page 10 are: Moses' transformation in 40 days on Mount Sinai, Noah'sof rain in the ark, Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness, the 40 days the disciples spent with Jesus after his resurrection. In all of these examples, people were transformed, strengthened and renewed by dedicating 40 days to God.
It's Not About Me
In Chapter 1, It All Starts With God, we are reminded that our life's purpose was predetermined by God, before we were born. Rick Warren makes the important distinction between searching for our own meaning in life as opposed to going to God and learning His purpose. This really refocused me. We are so often trained in the "self-help" manner of achieving success and accomplishing goals, but without purpose we are not fulfilled. The self-help way to success means that we start with ourselves and go from there. Since God is our creator, He knows us better than we know ourselves, and we need to go to Him first for direction. I have had to learn to let God lead me in so many ways regarding how I approach helping and healing my son with autism. This entire journey is a process of letting go and letting God in so many ways for me. First there is the diagnosis, the painful process of letting go of my dreams and ambitions for my son's future. The reminder of how we always start with ourselves really hit me here, and how I need to take the focus off of what I think and turn to God and ask Him what He thinks. Letting God give me new dreams and teach me how to trust Him completely, even when I don't know where it will lead me. On page 18, Rick Warren states, "You were made for God, not vice versa, and life is about letting God use you for His purposes, not using Him for your own purpose." God has a unique purpose for each of us and for each of our children. He knows exactly what we need before we need it and has a bigger vision, even bigger dreams than we do. It is easy to want to put God in a box and tell Him how He should arrange our lives. Through every obstacle and victory I learn to trust Him more and look forward to the day when I can see it all worked out, better than I could have imagined.
Nothing is an Accident
Chapter 2, You Are Not An Accident, takes us further into the truth that we are a part of God's perfect plan. How wonderful it is to know that every detail about us and our lives were pre-planned by God. That means our talents, gifts, and even our flaws are not a surprise to God. It is kind of earth-shattering for me to know that God knew that I would be raising a child with autism, before my life even began. Even though there may be some environmental factors that led to my son's developmental and health difficulties, God already knew how it would all unfold. I have taken myself back through the past, so many times, wondering how it would be if I had done some things different, when my life is meant to be exactly as it is now. I definitely wouldn't go so far as to say that God wanted my son to have autism, but I do sometimes think that I was chosen to walk this road for a reason. God knew how difficult this would be, but He also knew what could be accomplished with His help. He knew that this situation could bring me closer to Him and make me better able to live out his purpose for my life, not to mention the awesome purpose He has for my son, Matthew.
Psalm 139: 1-16
O Lord, you have searched me
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O Lord.
You hem me in—behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,"
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.