A New Year’s Course Correction
Every year that passes, I think a lot about what edges God wants to work out in my life and how Jesus might prune away something to bring forth fruit. A few years back, I had the year of peace, where I focused on experiencing God’s peace, and being a peaceful presence to others. I had the year of hope, where I prayed often for direction and a future in the midst of job changes and not knowing where God was taking me. I had the year of patience…which simply didn’t take. I think that one is a life-long battle! But as I prayed and thought into this New Year, 2017, and what God was stirring in my heart, the word “intentional” kept rising within.
Like many people, I feel busy a majority of the time. I look forward to the next break, breath of fresh air, vacation. Like many people, when asked how my week was, I simply answer, “Busy.” Or when asked how life is, I respond, “Busy.” This is problematic language for a Christian, and even more so for a pastor; because busy living is focused on tasks, whereas unhurried living is focused on presence.
This is not a post to tell you to drop out of everything you enjoy doing, or even a call to “simplify.” I actually believe both of these put the cart before the horse. What I have realized recently is that living intentionally redefines and reframes this call to simplify. Being intentional means putting my time, money, resources, and energy where God is intentionally moving me to put them.
Being intentional (the first part of the course correction) for me means beginning each day in relation to God. That means starting the day off reading the Bible and praying in my prayer journal. What does God want to speak into my life? Where is God calling me to go? What words does God desire me to hear that day? What people does God want to bring through my life that day? How is God molding and shaping me into someone unique?
When my life begins each day with an intentionality to be before God, in His presence, to develop my relationship with Jesus through listening to His Word, and to allow the Holy Spirit to work in my heart through prayer; then everything I do can flow out of that place. Should I join a Zumba class in 2017? Should KidZone be at both services? Should I make a complicated dinner or just heat up leftover pizza? When I start my day by intentionally rising to God’s call upon my life, these and many more questions seem to make sense.
Being intentional means saying no to some decent or even good ideas in order to say yes to the right idea.
The second part of this New Year’s practice is intentionally being. This is not something that comes naturally to me at all. I am a “doer!” Intentionally being for me means practicing the presence of God, regardless of what I am currently engaged in doing. In the book, The Practice of the Presence of God, Brother Lawrence says that, “The time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayers…I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the blessed sacrament.” This type of intentionality in being, of presence in any particular moment, is what I long for.
Intentionally being also means being present with one thing at a time, fully engaged, which is a far cry from our cultural norm. Rather than doing Sudoku, while texting with my sister, while watching tv, and having a side conversation with my husband (*confession…I actually do this sometimes); I intend to focus on full engagement in one thing at a time, to fully be there, in the moment.
Society has equipped us with all of the necessary tools and tech toys to never be engaged or present in any given moment. Having everything instantly available on a cell phone, having watches that give reminders to stand up and walk around, having the motherload allotment of distractions ever present in our homes, schools, work places, and churches, ensures that we never have to be fully present to anyone or anything.
I think this is why there are so many lonely people, longing for real intimacy and connection, and yet they may have thousands of Twitter and Instagram followers and Facebook friends. I have felt this over and again, a lack of real connection to people, because I allow myself to be distracted by tasks and gadgets.
That is why this year I want to focus on being intentional and intentionally being. Is there a way you have learned to be intentional or to intentionally be?
What is God calling you to this year?
I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment below…