(Below are Jessica's thoughts on Day 29 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 comment section below each post. We're sure you'll lift someone's spirit.)
I mentioned in a previous post that becoming a parent, especially to a child with autism taught me that I needed to learn more about true patience. In the same respect, I continually learn that it's not all about me. Day 29 takes us into God's fourth purpose for our lives, We were shaped for serving God. God saves us from destruction so that we can continue on in His purpose and plan, serving and assisting others with love because of the love He has shown us.
It is very difficult for most of us to step outside of our own lives. Especially in our unique situation, we are working so hard trying to meet our family's needs and we often feel too exhausted or overwhelmed to believe that we can be of any help in service to others. I think the first thing we need to do is value and recognize the great service we give in caring for those entrusted to us in our family, especially our special children. We then take this ministry that we are living in our homes out into the community as we care for and teach our children in the public eye. It is a powerful witness to other people, especially believers in Christ when we go about our work with kindness and love-in spite of how difficult or discouraging a situation may seem. When we encounter another autism mom, or even a mother struggling with a typical child and take the time to listen and offer encouragement, we are serving in ministry. We love others because He loved us first and offers us His love daily and freely. I love to see "veteran" autism moms mentoring and supporting moms of newly diagnosed children. It is a very pay-it-forward kind of ministry we have among eachother. I want to help someone else because I know how hard it is and it meant the world when someone else reached out to help me.
The moment we truly decide to make Jesus our savior and offer our lives completely to Him, the process of becoming a servant of God begins. Meditating on and studying God's word helps us to transform our thoughts, hearts and minds. Through a gradual process of stripping away the "self" focus of our lives, we begin to shift our focus to improving the lives of others. Throughout his ministry on earth, Jesus continually served others by teaching, healing, praying and loving. We begin to have the heart of Jesus when we feel and do this in our own lives.
Chapter 29, Accepting Your Assignment, gives us the details of our servanthood or ministry as outlined in the Bible.
1. You were created to serve God.
This point, to me reminds me again of the shift that has to take place in our hearts. We make the shift from thinking about how others make our life better to "How can I make someone else's life better." At one of my friend's homes, there is a post-it note on the door leading to the outside that everyone passes on their way out that says "Do something nice for someone today." I love that.
2. You were saved to serve God.
On page 228, Rick Warren states, "Through salvation our past has been forgiven, our present is given meaning and our future is secured." A true measure of how much Christ is really in our lives is in our desire to serve. It spoke to me when Rick Warren also identified any act of service to others as ministry. It warms my heart to know that no small act of kindness on our part goes unnoticed by God. We are each ministers in our own lives and have an important role in the kingdom by building up the church (body of Christ) in our communities.
3. You were called to serve God.
It still amazes me to know before I was even conceived that God had firmly planned what my life's purpose would be, and that it is very important to him. After we invite God into our lives, the journey to spiritual maturity begins when we study the word of God. We then need to put into practice what we have learned. On page 231, Rick Warren writes that many believers "already know far more than they are putting into practice. What they need are serving experiences in which they can exercise their spiritual muscles." He also points out that the shift from "serve us" to "service" is not our first natural inclination, but a true sign of spiritual maturity.
In the end, we have to give an account to God about how we used His gifts and love to serve others. His son lived a life of service and died for us so that we could live eternally. We have already learned that we were made to live eternally. Growing in love and knowledge of God's son Jesus aids us in this process. Knowing that God never gives up on us and wants to give us grace for every situation helps us to believe that this is indeed possible.
Bible Verses from Day 29:
For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. -Ephesians 2:10
By the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. -1 Timothy 8-10
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. -1 Corinthians 12:27
Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.- Matthew 20: 26-28