“It’s turned me into believing there is a power greater than myself.” These are the words of Olympian gold medalist Michael Phelps referring to the book, The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. “This book helped me when I was in a place when I needed the most help.”
Michael revealed he suffered a crisis of identity two years ago, which led him to consider ending his life. He was struggling to figure out who he was outside the pool which led him to heavy drinking and wondering whether his life was worth living. His DUI and arrest in 2014 led to a “downward spiral” that left him feeling the lowest he had ever been. It was his second DUI arrest in 10 years. This, along with his numerous broken relationships, prompted him to seek outside help.
That’s when a friend came to his rescue. The former All Pro Linebacker Ray Lewis, whom Michael thought of as an “older brother,” saw the hopelessness and despair in his friend. Lewis, an outspoken Christian told him, “This is when we fight . . . This is when real character shows up. Don’t shut down. If you shut down we all lose.” Lewis convinced Michael to enter rehab and gave him a book to read, The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren.
Phelps finally decided to check himself into rehab at the Meadows in Arizona. After checking into rehab, he began reading the book and it changed his life. Just a few days into rehab, Lewis said Phelps called him to talk about the book, “Man, this book is crazy,” Lewis said Phelps told him, “I cannot thank you enough, man, you saved my life.” It affected him so deeply that he would read the book to fellow patients, which earned him the nickname “Preacher Mike.”
Additionally, the book and his time in rehab convinced him to try to reconcile with his father, which he had been unable to do. Phelps had felt wounded when his father had abandoned his family when Phelps was 9. This was something that continued to haunt him into adulthood. He was reconciled with his father.
The Purpose Driven Life answers one of life’s most basic questions – Why am I here? It’s a question that hits at the heart. The Purpose Driven Life and the Bible are two of the most translated books around the world according to Zondervan and the easiest to get a copy of. It is God’s Word that is relevant to all peoples in all times – and The Purpose Driven Life is simply Christian literature that can be used as a tool to introduce people to God’s Word and His purposes.
Michael Phelps learned that gold medals, no matter how many you have, do not bring long lasting satisfaction and fulfillment. God has a purpose for every life. A fulfilled life is a purpose driven life. It is a life guided, controlled, and directed by God’s purposes as revealed in the Bible. Nothing matters more than knowing God’s purposes for you. Jesus said, “I am come that you might have life and that you might have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)