(Below are Nicole's thoughts on Day 10 of The Purpose Drive 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.)
I want to take this post to talk about Day 10, The Heart of Worship. I believe that worship is a very important part of our relationship with God. As we learned in the previous post from Jessica, we worship God in so many other ways than just singing. Let's take a look at Day 10.
Day 10 opens up with a very powerful statement...."The heart of worship is surrender." I like how Rick Warren validates our own feelings of this word "surrender" by telling us that is a very unpopular word. Why? When we think of this word today, we think of quitting, giving up and not getting what we want. However, if you look up the word "surrender" in the dictionary it defines the word as "to give up completely or agree to forgo especially in favor of another." Surrendering to God is giving up our idea of what our lives should be and how we want them for what he needs them to be. Here's the great thing about it, he loves us so much that what he needs our lives to be like is actually better for us.
Sure, it's easy to surrender parts of our lives to God. I'll go to church on Sundays, I'll read my Bible, participate in a Bible study, and I'll even stop watching that show you placed so heavily on my heart to stop watching. But autism? You want me to just hand over autism and how it effects my child? It's scary. We want our children to be healed. We, as moms, want control over this and want to know when it's going to end, how it's going to end and most importantly if it's going to end. But if we hold on to this, we are not surrendering to God. We can't just give him bits and pieces. So how can we surrender our entire lives to God?
Day 10 shows us that we have three major barriers that block us from surrendering to God. They are fear, pride and confusion. On page 78, Rick Warren writes "We don't realize how much God loves us, we want to control our own lives, and we misunderstand the meaning of surrender." He then continues on with "Trust is an essential ingredient to surrender. You won't surrender to God unless you trust him, but you can't trust him until you know him better." I've heard time and time again that the best way you can get to know God is to spend time with him like you would a friend. When you're upset or just need someone to talk to, talk to God. Stop what you're doing and pray. Pray like you're talking to a friend. I used to have a really hard time with this. I used to think prayers should be very proper and if you didn't know how to pray it's better to keep it short and sweet. Now, I just pray and talk to God like he's my friend. Sometimes I pray about decisions we have to make, things that upset me that someone said, or just to thank him for all of the wonderful things he has given me. Once I realized I just had to be me to talk to him and not be a super religious being, my relationship grew closer and closer. We also spend time with God by reading his Word, the Bible. The thing to remember while reading the Bible is the Bible has some really incredible life changing true stories. Take the time to really learn from them and understand them. If you're reading the Bible and it's not making sense, find a Bible that's easier to read. There are so many different versions available. Personally, I like the NIV and the Life Applications Bible. I typically will read my NIV Bible. When I get to something that I'm not wrapping my head around, I'll pick up the Life Applications Bible and get a more in depth look. Think about it...the more time you spend with your neighbors, friends and even family the more you trust them. The same goes for God. If you want to trust him then you need to invest some time with him.
Our next barrier to surrendering to God is pride. On page 79, Rick shares "That desire-to have complete control-is the cause of so much stress in our lives. Life is a struggle, but what most people don't realize is that our struggle, like Jacob's, is really a struggle with God!" I love the following statement by Rick Warren..."It is when we try to be God that we end up most like Satan, who desired the same thing." Wow! Think about that statement and how true it is. How easy it is for us to see how wrong Satan was to become a fallen angel. How sad is it that at times, we are the same way but trying to take control of something that isn't suppose to be under our control. Rick goes on to explain that we accept what we're given and we move on. We become happy. Then, we notice what others have or receive and we become jealous, angry, envious and pity ourselves. Think about your life as a mom with a child on the spectrum. How do you feel when you hear that a child has recovered? Our first feeling is joy and excitement. We are happy for every child out there that is getting better. But if you are completely honest with yourself and with God, the jealousy, the anger, the envy and the self-pity come quickly creeping in. Why isn't this happening for my child? What am I doing wrong? When we surrender our lives to God, you have more peace inside of you than you do negative feelings. So when these situations come up, your peace overcomes everything else.
Let's go back to what it means to truly surrender to God. Try to take away the idea of one team surrendering to the other only to lose the battle. Don't think about the words quitting or giving up. Instead, see it as trust. Trusting God with our lives. Trusting the one who wants the very best for us even if we don't know how it'll work out. On page 80, Rick Warren says "Abraham followed God's leading without knowing where it would take him. Hannah waited for God's perfect timing without knowing when. Mary expected a miracle without knowing how. Joseph trusted God's purpose without knowing why circumstances happened the way they did. Each of these people were fully surrendered to God." As I've mentioned in previous studies, surrendering our lives to God doesn't mean we give up. We don't surrender to autism. We surrender to God. What's the difference? To me, surrendering to autism means letting autism have control of our lives. Surrendering to God would be giving him control. With God in control, we still do research, invest in therapies for our children, pursue biomedical treatment. We keep searching for a way to help our child. Just because we surrender to God doesn't mean we give up helping our child. It means we give up the negative feelings. The jealousy, the anger, the hurt, the envy and self-pity. We understand that God has control of this and we accept everything he brings to us. We continue to love our children, play with our children and advocate for our children. Surrendering takes the yucky feelings away so that they stop distracting us from what God needs us to do.
Once we have completely surrendered to God, our hearts are full of worship for him. We see the blessings that come with surrendering and that's when we want to worship him. We want to spend time with him, we want to sing to him and even more importantly, we want to share him with others. On page 82, Rick Warren reminds us of Joshua as he was approaching the biggest battle of his life. He surrendered his plan to God and look what blessings he received! He also reminds us of Mary and how God chose Mary because she totally surrendered. I love how Rick Warren also included the following quote from E. Stanley Jones..."if you don't surrender to Christ, you surrender to chaos."
I want to end with what Rick Warren encourages us to do on page 83..."Put Jesus Christ into the driver's seat of your life and take your hands off the steering wheel. Don't be afraid; nothing under his control can ever be out of control. Mastered by Christ, you can handle anything."
Give yourself to God...Surrender your whole being to him to be used for righteous purposes. -Romans 6:13
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. -Proverbs 3:5
"He trusts in the Lord; Let the Lord rescue him. Let him deliver him since he delights in him." -Psalm 22:8