Why intentional living? This is a question I get asked often and you might be curious too.
During my 20’s I drifted through my everyday life – living each day based on my rapidly changing hormonal feelings and with no focus at all. It was an up and down, exhausting, selfish, all over the place, never satisfying, shallow existence.
I lived for Friday and everything in between didn’t matter. Friday evening at 5pm felt like Christmas morning as a child. It was the feeling of sitting at the top of the stairs – anticipating mommy and daddy waking up - so then I could sprint downstairs and tear open my new shiny presents from Santa. I lived for this same Friday evening moment each week. And each week it came. And each week it went. The weekends were filled with friends, partying and drinking away the miserable work week behind me. Church on Sundays was a check off of my “good person” list and Sunday afternoons were ruined from the dread of Monday.
There was fun and a lot of amazing people in my life, don’t get me wrong, but I didn’t have a personal relationship with God. It was a dead life with no meaningful purpose for me. In my late 20’s it was drastically turned upside down - like a rotted trailer home uprooted into the deadly winds of a category four hurricane’s eye. Everything crumbled. I lost my marriage, job, home, friends, dog – I lost everything I had known.
In my darkest hour, when I was finally tired of this less than meaningful way of life, I surrendered myself to Christ. My personal life was missing the most important person, Jesus. I can still feel the sweet beauty and freedom of surrender. Through it all - God never stopped pursuing me with His great love. God’s grace flooded my heart in a way I will never be able to express. It’s a grace that rescues, restores, heals, forgives, blesses and loves you back to a new and better life.
I would never only live for Friday evenings again. I no longer wanted to let life just happen and aimlessly drift through each day unfocused. I had Christ in me now. I wanted the little moments to matter. We only have one life and I wanted mine to count. I desired to live a focused purposeful life. I wanted to live intentionally - every single day!
Wikipedia defines Intentional Living as any lifestyle based on an individual or group’s conscious attempts to live according to their values and beliefs.
The core beliefs of Christianity are summarized in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. Jesus died for our sins, was buried, was resurrected, and thereby offers salvation to all who will receive Him in faith. Unique among all other faiths, Christianity is more about a relationship than religious practices. The goal of a Christian is to cultivate a close walk with God rather than adhering to a list of “do’s and don’ts”. That relationship is possible because of the work of Jesus Christ and the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Christian’s believe that the Bible is the inspired, “God-breathed” Word of God and that its teaching is the final authority in all matters of faith and practice (2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 1: 20-21).
The Bible warns about living an unfocused life. Paul said in Ephesians 5:15-17, “Be very careful, then, how you live-not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”
Paul lived with intention and I choose to do the same sweet friends. I fail a lot but God is always there to pick me up. I no longer have Friday evening tunnel vision, and have changed my direction, to keep my eyes focused on the goal of God’s plan for my life. My hope is when I stand before the Lord and give an account of what I have done – I can confidently tell Him what I did with all He blessed me with. What is your hope when you stand before God?
I look to Jesus as the perfect example of intentional living. His greatest two commandments are found in Matthew 22:37-40 “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”
I want to live out these great commandments in my every day. I like to begin each day sitting in God’s presence. Often, I imagine I am sitting at His feet. During this time I pray for intentional ways to love my family, friends, and neighbors or people I meet throughout my day and record them in the journal. See some examples from my own journal below.
This is how intentional living was introduced into my life. The moment I began to get my mind off of me and onto other people I had more joy and purpose than ever before! And you can too!
I watched Lysa Terkeurst “The Best Yes” webcast earlier this week. Check it out at www.lysaterkeurst.com.
I love at the thirty-one minute marker in the video, she shares the following about intentional moments during her day:
“We all have different roles that we play but we all have those moments where we lay our head on our pillow and say, Wow did I just blow it at everything today? Having intentional moments woven throughout the fabric of my day - you can think back that no I didn’t blow it at every moment of my day, because I had this great moment!”
I agree, Lysa! Intentional moments can look different for everyone. Whether it’s putting a love note in your kid’s lunch box or tucking them in at night. Sending a care package to a child at college or mailing a Jesus Calling devotional to a friend that’s walked away from Christ. Maybe it’s encouraging your server at a restaurant or buying the meal for a family behind you in the local drive thru. Or maybe it’s simply taking your significant other a coffee at his office job. Pre-decided intentional acts look different for everyone, but they bring purpose and meaning to your life.
Why intentional living you ask? Because at the end of your day when you’re replaying your moments in your day. You will know that you had at least one great moment. In fact, it was one great INTENTIONAL moment. Most importantly, it is the life Jesus died on the cross for us to live.