A couple of weeks ago, my small group leader challenged us to find a word that would serve as a cornerstone for our year, which would stimulate us to be better individuals, that would motivate us to become stronger spiritually.
As we went around the room, there were some great terms being chosen – faith, honesty, wait, truth, caring, etcetera. When it came time for me to reveal mine, although it has been something I have been trying to incorporate into my life for a little while now, I felt the Spirit prodding me to proclaim “intentional” as my foundational word.
With each passing year, I have strongly believed God was going to “do a work” on me. I sensed it was going to be “life-changing” in many ways. I thought I would be able to reflect back and pinpoint this moment in time where my life turned the corner or “took off.”
Maybe in the past this has been the “hopeful wishes” of an optimist, or the positive thoughts of an idealist, however I have truly seen glimpses of how God can work in and through my life when I approach it intentionally.
After searching a number of Bible translations, I was hard-pressed to find any instance or form of the word being used, save one. Nevertheless, this philosophy can be argued as the basis of how God wants us all to live.
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth (Revelation 3:15).
Many of us, me included at times, “desire” a change or “want” something different for our life, but we never take the steps to do anything about it. We just “go with the flow” and live the lukewarm existence which has plagued us for so long, and then wonder why we’re still at the same place years later.
We say we want a new job, but haven’t bothered to search, decide what we’d like to do or even prepare a resume.
We affirm we want to be in a relationship, but we don’t put ourselves in a position to meet new people or deviate from our past patterns of behavior.
We declare we are going to accomplish “something” this year, but don’t take any steps in order to do so.
Whatever it is, we have to decide to make a concerted effort to do it. No one else is going to do it for us.
I’m not a huge “reality show” fanatic and don’t necessarily agree with the premise or all of the actions of the contestants at times, but I do admire those that compete on The Bachelor/Bachelorette and The Biggest Loser for the sole reason that they made the effort with the intention of finding their spouse or losing weight, especially in light of the scrutiny of a national audience watching.
This is in no means the solution or direction for everyone; however, it clearly illustrates how some have made an intentional step to pursue what they want for their life.
I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me (Revelation 3:20).
Although this passage is familiar to us as a scripture we are introduced to at the outset of our Christian walk, it reminds me of being at my family’s home during the holidays when someone knocks on the door. Someone usually yells for someone else to “get the door” and oftentimes with it being a family member who locked themselves out, someone runs over, quickly unlocking it and runs off.
This may be the mindset of how some of us deal with potential opportunities we’re presented with – we ignore it, we want someone else to do the work, or expect it to happen by itself.
Opportunities (and changes) come in variety of ways. Sometimes they come knocking, other times we have to go in search of, and still others we need to break a door down in order to create one. In each case we need to take the personal responsibility to intentionally pursue it.
Recently, I had to relocate to a new area for a short period of time. Discovering it was only going to be for a month, I could have easily and justifiably quietly gone about my work and found plenty of things to occupy my time. However, I sensed the need to get “plugged into the community” even for a short stint. On the very first Sunday at my new location, I found a church, signed up for a men’s group and joined two life groups, all the while not knowing a soul.
Did I feel comfortable doing it? No. Was I confident? Not really. Was it worth it? Definitely!
Within a month, I have connected with several people, offered to help in a number of areas (even beyond my stay) and grown both personally and spiritually – all the result of having a willingness to be used, making myself available, and being intentional.
Life can be difficult and life can seem unfair.
When I have found this to be most true is when I go about my day without a specific plan or purpose. I live “hoping,” “wishing” or even (just) “praying” for something without any further involvement. I do “what is necessary,” no more, no less. This is the epitome of a lukewarm life – living to get by, doing what is “expected,” and producing a vanilla result.
God created and fashioned us with a purpose far greater than that. No wonder why He would “spit," "spew," or "vomit" us out of his mouth (differing versions of Revelation 3:15) if we are going to live that way.
The adventure in life begins when we pursue what we were individually created to do, not by following the crowd or choosing to live in a manner just to survive, but rather in a manner to thrive.
Live purposefully, live deliberately, live intentionally and you can overcome anything you believe is standing in your way.
Cliff Young is a contributing writer to Sandlot Stories (cydmg.