(Below are Jessica's thoughts on the Day 3 of The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. 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.)
Day 3: What Drives Your Life?
As we continue towards learning God's purpose for our lives, Day 3 deals with the other, more hidden motives that can direct us. It's important to be honest with ourselves and acknowledge these, then surrender them to God so that we can move past them and into His purpose. The biggest drive I have in this autism journey is to heal and recover all of the areas where my son has been affected. That sounds like a very selfless purpose but as I look deeper I can see areas where it can be tainted and can work against me. The first drive Rick Warren mentions is guilt, a classic trap that so many of us fall into. Even though I intellectually know that I did no intentional thing to cause my son's autism, there is a part of me that can be tricked into feeling like I need to make up for things I should have known. (Side note: Any sentence beginning with "I should have" is a trap set by the enemy to get us off track). It really helped me in this area to read last week in Day 2 that God already knew this would happen before any of my choices, and would use it to bring Him glory and lead our family closer to Him. Another drive I related to is fear. There is the fear that my son will die from an allergic reaction, fear that he will not make enough progress, fear that in the end his needs will overwhelm our ability to meet them and my personal favorite: fear that somehow I'm not doing enough for him-more traps.
The truth is that yes, these are trials, but so far God has moved in many ways to help us and him in all of these situations. Every serious reaction he's had I've been there to comfort and give him the medication, doors have opened and opportunites have come to us by no other explanation than from God, and in spite of some very overwhelming challenges my son is resilient, loving, continuing to learn and progress. Why would I think that God would all of a sudden stop being there for us? On page 29, Rick Warren states "Fear is a self-imposed prison that will keep you from becoming what God intends for you to be. You must move against it with weapons of faith and love." God loves us so much, and we grow in faith and knowledge of His love by studying His word, especially in these areas. It's also so important to count our blessings. It can be so easy for me to be so overwhelmed by the challenge I am facing that I lose touch with all of the wonderful things God has done for me.
There are so many benefits to knowing our purpose. It is comforting to know that God sees a purpose in everything, to know that none of us is struggling in vain. It's good to know that even if right now I don't understand why or what His purpose is, He knows and will lead me there at exactly the right time. Knowing that God has a purpose gives meaning to all we are going through and hope that with His help we will triumph. On page 30, Rick Warren states, "Without God, life has no purpose, and without purpose, life has no meaning. Without meaning, life has no significance or hope." Dr. Bernie Siegel observed that the cancer patients with a greater sense of life purpose were the most likely to survive (p.31). This definitely encouraged me and gave me hope. I often feel like my life is very complicated with all of the therapists, teachers, doctors and specialists that we keep up with. I am always longing to simplify things but feel like I am somewhat limited in my ability to do so because of my family's needs.
It definitely spoke to me that knowing my purpose will simplify my life. If you clearly know your purpose, you are in a better position to use your resources more wisely and make better, more effective decisions. On page 31, Rick Warren states, "Without a clear purpose you have no foundation on which you base decisions, allocate your time, and use your resources. You will tend to make choices based on circumstances, pressures, and your mood at the moment. People who don't know their purpose try to do too much-and that causes stress, fatigue and conflict." This is a tough learning curve, one which I am making progress, but have still not mastered yet. The example of light diffused vs. light focused is a great analogy for what can be accomplished by a person whose faith, abilities and energy are clearly focused. Diffused light has very little power but focused light is like a laser beam, able to cut steel! (p.32) No wonder the devil works so hard to get us off track. Another benefit of knowing our purpose is that it motivates us. This is crucial: with all that we have to know, do and prepare for, we need this motivation to energize an renew our enthusiasm.
The most important benefit of knowing our purpose is that it prepares us for eternity. On pages 33-34, Rick Warren writes, "You weren't put on earth to be remembered. You were put here to prepare for eternity". Every choice that we make leads us either closer to or farther from God. Rick Warren tells us that when our lives are over, God will want to know: How well did we love, know and cooperate with His son, Jesus Christ and also how we used the gifts, talents and opportunities given to us for the purpose God made us for. I am thankful for this book and look forward to all of us learning more as we grow together.
Isaiah 49: 3-4
He said to me, "You are my servant,
Israel, in whom I will display my splendor."
But I said, "I have labored to no purpose;
I have spent my strength in vain and for nothing.
Yet what is due me is in the LORD's hand,
and my reward is with my God."
1 John 4:18
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Philippians 3: 12-14
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.