As I mentioned last week, change is often difficult for a variety of reasons, including the fact that it requires work and intentionality. That intentionality is what I want to discuss this week. Intentionality is vital for any sort of transformation and change, but so often we disregard it in hopes that things will “just happen.”
Again, as it’s still the beginning of the year, so many of us have really good intentions for the coming year. We intend to lose weight, to get healthy, to eat better, to get more sleep, to spend less time on our phones, to spend more time with our family and loved ones, to travel more, to do better in school or work, to spend more time on a hobby that has fallen by the wayside, to pick up a new hobby, to learn something new, to pray more, to read our Bible/have a quiet time every day, to shake that sin that we have been entertaining, to get closer to God, etc… The problem arises, however, in that, despite our very best intentions, we don’t actually do anything to make those intentions a reality. We hope that somehow, through osmosis, the change will just seep into our lives as a result of our good intentions.
This is not how life or God works, however. Look at anyone who is exceptional in what they do, whether that be in a career, as a parent/child/spouse/friend, that they have amazing faith and are close to God, that they speak seven languages, excel in sports, are rich, strong, intelligent, whatever it may be. They didn’t just wake up that way. They worked for it, and they were intentional about what they were doing and why they were doing it. This is the way that we need to be as well.
Christ said, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” We often think about faith as a one-time event, a single moment of conversion that changes our lives from that moment on, and in a sense that is accurate. When we accept Christ’s gift of salvation we are radically and immediately changed by the indwelling of the Spirit. However, walking with Christ, growing in Christ, strengthening our faith, these are all things that require daily action on our part. They require that we be intentional in our lives and actions.
To be intentional means that we do things on purpose. We don’t just let life happen, but we make goals, and we take action to meet those goals. The goals are not always the same, nor are the actions that lead to them, but what is the same is the importance of purposefully taking action. You are never going to pray more if you don’t intentionally make the time and actually pray. You aren’t going to grow close to God unless you intentionally talk to Him and listen to Him, and make time to read and study His Word. Your faith is never going to grow stronger unless you intentionally take leaps of faith, intentionally act on faith, putting yourself in situations where the only way you don’t fail, and fall hard, is if God comes through.
We all want to change for the better, to grow, to improve, to join God in what He is doing, but He does not have us on a leash, there is no autopilot. We won’t get there unless we intentionally take up our cross every single day and follow Him.