(Below are Nicole's thoughts on Day 4, 5 and 6 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.)
It happened about seven years ago. It forever changed my life, my thinking and the way I see the world around me. It was the day I accepted Jesus in my life. I was always a Believer but never really had that relationship. Never really truly knew where I was going when I died. But after that day, I knew. I knew how much better my life would be. It's all because of Jesus. I'll never forget speaking to a fellow colleague, who I also refer to as my spiritual mentor. He helped me find my way back to Christ and I am so thankful for him. I remember one day in particular when he was talking about death and how truly amazing it will be when he dies. I remember thinking to myself that this guy was completely off his rocker and needed help. Now I see that I was the one who needed help.
You see, like Rick Warren, my friend knew that our time here on Earth is so minute compared to eternity. He knew that our life now is to not only prepare ourselves for eternity but to help others prepare as well. It was amazing to sit back and watch my friend each day handle stressful situations that I would have screamed my head off over, how he would reach out to others and how devoted he was to God and His purpose. Looking back and knowing what I know now, I see why his life was so easy. It wasn't that my friend's life was so wonderful and that he didn't have his fair share of problems. It wasn't that I was a horrible person who didn't know how to handle things. It was that my friend had the right view on life. He was in the perfect seat at the movie theater. His view was clear. He knew that compared to eternity this life is so short and he wasn't going to waste it on things that don't matter.
Let's think about this for a second. As humans, it's hard for us to wrap our head around the world eternity. I don't think God wants us to either. He wants us to trust Him. So, if we fully trust God and do what He needs for us to do and we realize that what we're doing now is what Rick Warren calls a "Dress Rehearsal for eternity", how much easier does my day look to me! It puts everything into perspective for me. Let me go deeper....autism. If I'm looking at life like my time here is more important than eternity, then the days where my son seems to regress or seems to be completely out of it are going to destroy me. They take a toll on me. Believe me, I have those days where I am looking at life the wrong way. We can't help it. We get so wrapped up in "Earthly treasures". Now, if I change my view on life and look at it as a "dress rehearsal" or a place I'm just passing through, my days don't look so hard. From this view, I'm doing things the way God wants me to do them instead doing them my way.
So how do we do this? How do have God's view on our lives?
For Day 5 & 6, Rick Warren shows us how the Bible uses metaphors to teach us how to have God's view on life. They are as follows: Life is a test, Life is trust and Life is a temporary assignment. For now, let's just take a look at autism, seeing that this is the one common factor in all our lives. However, this is also good to apply to other areas in your life as well. Whether it be marriage, finances, work, etc. Right now, let's focus on autism.
Life is a test: I believe that autism is a test for not only us but for the world around us. We don't truly know how we're being tested or why. I agree with Rick Warren when he writes on page 43, "Character is both developed and revealed by tests, and all of life is a test." I'm going to look at my hard days as a test and do what we usually do with tests, learn from them. I'll learn from them by spending more time with God to find out what He needs for me to learn. The best way to spend time with God is through prayer, reading the Bible and worship. Go on and crank up that worship music as you're driving in your car. It's amazing what it will do for you!
Life is trust: I believe that we need to trust God with our children. After all, they are his children too. He's entrusted us with them during this "dress rehearsal." God is with us and wants the best for our children. He's looking out for them and will help guide us as long as we trust in Him.
Life is a temporary assignment: This is a good way to look at life especially when things just don't seem to get better. Autism is tough. Some months my son is doing great and I think to myself "This is it! He's going to be healed." Only to have the next several months go completely down hill. These are the times I need to remind myself that all of this is happening for a greater purpose. His purpose. It is God's Will that we want done in our lives, that we pray is done in our lives. I have to pick up my cross and handle my tough days. I need to keep pressing forward for God and His Will. I need to remember that this is only temporary and there are oh so many more blessings in Heaven waiting for me.
When I keep all of these wonderful things in mind that Rick Warren tells us about in Day 4, 5 and 6 it really does make my issues seem so much smaller. It's not about me. It's about Him. It's not about my life now. It's about eternity. We just need to change our view on our lives and see it the way God does. Absolutely beautiful.
I would like to end this post by encouraging you to answer the Questions to Consider on pages 40, 46 and 52. They are as follows:
Day 4: Since I was made to last forever, what is the one thing I should stop doing and the one thing I should start doing?
Day 5: What has happened to me recently that I now realize is a test from God? What are the greatest matters God has entrusted to me?
Day 6: How should the fact that life on earth is just a temporary assignment change the way I am living right now?
Bible Verses from Day 6:
Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered, and that my life is fleeing away. -Psalm 39:4
I am here on earth for just a little while. -Psalm 119:19