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Our Road to Damascus: 7 Lessons for a Life of Purpose and Meaning

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A book on finding true meaning and purpose in life and therefore accepting a transformative change that's an essential prerequisite.

Synopsis

One ancient story. Seven new lessons about life and change.

Internationally acclaimed speaker Dan Assisi transforms an old story told countless times before into something new and deeply relevant to our times.

In Our Road to Damascus, Dr. Assisi uncovers 7 lessons for a life of purpose and meaning that will help us navigate the challenges we face and find the happiness we seek. At the end, we are left with a blueprint for understanding change and acting on personal growth that will stick with you forever.

"Loneliness, loss, failure, doubt, confusion, hope, direction, faith… A Paul like you have never seen before. Our Road to Damascus is practical wisdom that transcends time. It hits so close to home it will leave you gaping…"

Paul of Tarsus' journey to Damascus is not a religious story – it is a tale of profound personal transformation. As we dive deeper into one of the greatest personal transformations in recorded history, we understand why we face the struggles we do, how they relate to each other and what lies ahead for us.

This is a book for anyone who has gone through difficult times and is wondering: what comes next?

Our Road to Damascus by Dan Assisi is a book on personal change based on the awe-inspiring transformation of Saul, once Christianity’s worst enemy, into Paul, one of its most fiery proponents, after a personal encounter with Jesus Christ on the road from Jerusalem (Israel) to Damascus (Syria). Change is vital to our growth and inevitable. In this book, the author uses Paul as a model to expound on transformative change, its pain and benefits, and seven lessons to make a transformative change successful in real life. The choice of Paul is because his transformative experiences are unparalleled in human history.


Readers other than Christians and folks deep into Christianity will need an introduction to Paul, the apostle. So, I’ll make a brief introduction before proceeding. Paul (born Saul, 4 BCE to c.62-64 CE) was highly intelligent and a good athlete. He became a powerful member of the Jewish Sanhedrin when he grew up. He was a devout Jew, and like other Jews of his time, rejected Jesus as Israel’s “Messiah.” Believing Christ was a deceiver, he wanted to destroy Christianity. While on a journey from Jerusalem to Damascus to arrest Damascene Christians and bring them to book, Jesus met him in a powerful, blinding vision. That encounter led to a profound, 180-degree change, transforming Saul into Paul!


Although it’s undeniable that the author is passionately inspired by Paul and the Bible underpins it, it would be a mistake to assume that this book is for Christians alone. It would be much more appropriate to treat it as a book on spiritual growth for all written by an author with a Christian worldview. For example, in Chap. 10, the author uses “Universe” in the sense of a global yet unknown God. Again in Chap. 5, the discussion about learning leverages science (e.g., Lev Vygotsky’s ZPD and related studies).


Though a serious book, the author has made it enjoyable by using simple language and by blending in humor and brief digressions of interest at several places. The only flaw I found is he repeats himself occasionally.


I recommend this book to ALL readers because we are all deeply spiritual by nature. Stephen Covey’s quote, “... We are spiritual beings on a human journey.” puts it across very well. Challenged by life’s situations, our natures are continually seeking answers to spiritual questions, an unending quest until we find true meaning and purpose in life or the symbolic “Damascus” of this book. So if you are sufficiently mature and open-minded, Our Road to Damascus is definitely for YOU. The author hopes to inspire us through this book to follow in Paul’s footsteps and start on our own journeys to Damascus (destinations of fulfillment), very soon!

Reviewed by

An engineer and part-time IT Consultant based in Bangalore, India. Part-time copy editor/reviewer. An IEEE Senior Member. Deep thinker and innovator. Highly analytical, clear, accurate, and thorough. Nearly 40 book reviews published to date-20 on Reedsy and 20 on Online BookClub.

Synopsis

One ancient story. Seven new lessons about life and change.

Internationally acclaimed speaker Dan Assisi transforms an old story told countless times before into something new and deeply relevant to our times.

In Our Road to Damascus, Dr. Assisi uncovers 7 lessons for a life of purpose and meaning that will help us navigate the challenges we face and find the happiness we seek. At the end, we are left with a blueprint for understanding change and acting on personal growth that will stick with you forever.

"Loneliness, loss, failure, doubt, confusion, hope, direction, faith… A Paul like you have never seen before. Our Road to Damascus is practical wisdom that transcends time. It hits so close to home it will leave you gaping…"

Paul of Tarsus' journey to Damascus is not a religious story – it is a tale of profound personal transformation. As we dive deeper into one of the greatest personal transformations in recorded history, we understand why we face the struggles we do, how they relate to each other and what lies ahead for us.

This is a book for anyone who has gone through difficult times and is wondering: what comes next?

On The Road With Paul

“Awake, you that sleep, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

(Ephesians 5:14)


These words Paul wrote to a group of early Christians in Ephesus more than 2,000 years ago still echo through the times. They have endured time and space, suffered critique and study, and withstood disdain and adoration to reach us today. It is a simple verse written by a Jewish man in a Roman prison to Gentile friends and acquaintances 840 miles away in what is today Turkey calling them to awaken to a new reality, speaking of a personal transformation so profound that it would cause them to revolutionize how they saw life. His words also spoke of a mysterious figure, the Christ, who remains largely misunderstood to this day and who seemed to possess a light of his own. No doubt, much can be unpacked from these few words. Regardless of whatever personal feelings we may harbor toward them, there is no denying they are full of vigor, vivid imagery, and a sense of urgency and importance. 

But are they relevant to us today? Should we listen to them? Who is this Paul person who speaks to us from a distant past and a faraway place? What kind of transformation is this that he promises us? Who truly is this Jesus figure he sees only once in his life and who causes him to change? Is this just a religious experience? How does it relate to us living in a vastly different world than Paul did? What does he know of our challenges and our lives that would lead us to lend him any credence? In short: why would these words matter? 

Because Paul’s journey to Damascus is the type of voyage of spiritual transformation we all must undertake to truly find our place in this world and our purpose in the universe.

Many of us have already felt it: that there is more to life, to our existence, than we are capable of understanding. We struggle to find happiness, to know where “to go”—yet we sense there is more to it all. But where do we go? And how do we get there? Paul’s story may hold some answers. My greatest hope is that these pages may help bridge the time and space between our busy 21st-century lives and the Apostle of the Gentiles two millennia ago—and that they may, ultimately, help you make sense of your own journey to “Damascus.” 

We would do well to pay attention to Paul and what he has to say as we search for meaning and purpose for our own lives. Saul of Tarsus, eventually to be called Paul, is perhaps one of the greatest examples of personal transformation we have in recorded history. An avid opponent of early Christianity, Paul eventually becomes its greatest exponent—but only after an impromptu encounter with Christ on his way to Damascus. When it happens, he realizes his old habits, his career, and his lifestyle are no longer enough for him. He leaves his successful life behind to do something completely different. In the process, he is abandoned by family and ridiculed by friends, all of whom cannot understand the cause for such change. (Certainly he was mad!) So he starts anew, without truly knowing what lies ahead, and forges on. Eventually, Paul travels on foot through most of the known world at the time—more than once—bringing a message of love and acceptance to all who would hear. By the time he is done with this life, he has sparked new congregations of faith, visited many existing others, personally met and brought hope to thousands of people, mentored a new generation of Christian messengers, befriended and counseled some of Christ’s disciples, faced politicians and a Roman emperor, and written letters that have become a central part of Western religious and ethical thinking. More importantly, however, Paul lived a life of fulfillment and purpose. 

Such radical change is not for the faint of heart—but it is within our reach. You may have heard of the successful CEO who steps down from their position of power to try something new; of the lawyer who leaves their practice to become a social worker; of the engineer who quits their well-paying job to become a high-school teacher; or of the executive who leaves a successful career behind to become a stay-at-home parent. These stories are as numerous as they are increasingly frequent. And those who undertake such change all have a little bit of Paul in them—we all do. We may think these people have it all, that they have everything that could make them happy and fulfilled—yet clearly something makes them choose to change.

The truth is we are all looking for meaning and purpose. Whether you are a line cook or a CEO, a retail worker or an astronaut, an artist or an engineer, we all at times feel like we are stumbling in the dark, unsure about why we are here and what we should do with our lives. Paul may have some answer for us because he has been there before. He may be able to point us toward the light, to help us awake to a new paradigm that can revolutionize our lives and help us make a dent in the world. 

In short, Paul’s journey to Damascus can be seen as a symbolic portrayal of the deeply personal and spiritual path we all must trek before finding lasting meaning and purpose for our lives. It is a lot larger than just a religious event. As we relive Paul’s experience, we reflect upon our own. As we examine the particulars of his story, we may identify with some of the challenges we face in this life as well as clues as to how to overcome them. That is the wisdom of the Gospel: practical, timeless advice for our daily lives—if we are able to wake up from our spiritual slumber and see ancient places and old names not as curious fiction but as real situations and people who were striving for happiness amid the people they cared about. Just like us. 

So, I invite you to get on the road with me toward Damascus. Maybe we will find Paul along the way and, with luck and a little effort, a new philosophy of enlightenment too will shine on us.

About the author

Dan Assisi, Ed.D. is an internationally celebrated speaker who has delivered hundreds of talks on spirituality in over 60 cities in 4 continents. Known for a mix of deep thinking and witty humor, Dan takes a rational approach to spirituality to remind audiences everywhere of our spiritual nature. view profile

Published on December 12, 2020

60000 words

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Religion & Spirituality

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