At the beginning of the 2018, I sat down in the early hours of the morning and decided that I would choose a word for the year. A word that would define my year and my actions and that would keep me on the right track. As I thought about it, the word I ended up with was ‘intentional.’
Intentional. The more I thought about it, the more the word grew on me and from that point on I decided that I would be live intentionally. I decided that I would be intentional in every area of my life; my faith, my relationships, my work, my health. I no longer would waste time or invest my time and energy in areas that are not good for me or that distract me, but I would be intentional about who I spent time with and what activities I did and where I poured my energy. I hung up the word in my apartment and even bought a pretty necklace with ‘live intentionally’ on it.
But living intentionally was easy in theory but a little harder in practice. It’s easy to miss how easily we get distracted, or pulled into relationships that aren’t healthy or activity that doesn’t replenish the soul. Life is full of distractions and sometimes those distractions are good, but at times, they aren’t and we lose sight of how much time and energy we waste on something that God may not have wanted us to engage with in the first place.
I know this first hand.
At the best of times I have the attention span of a puppy dog and can get just as excited as a puppy when a shiny new distraction comes along. My best intentions of staying on task go out the window as I allow distractions, in whatever form they come, take me off track and redirect my steps.
If there was anyone that could role model what being intentional looked like, it was Jesus. While we read in the Gospels that Jesus regularly stopped to eat and have fellowship with people, He never lost sight of what it was He was meant to do; He never lost sight of His purpose and was intentional about when He stopped and when He kept going. In Mark 1, we see Jesus demonstrate just what being intentional looks, when after a whole evening of healing people, the disciples come looking for Him to take Him back to the people,
Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else — to the nearby villages — so I can preach there also. That is why I have come”. So he travelled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons. (Mark 1:36-39).
The people were looking for Jesus because they wanted to listen to Him, to be healed, to be transformed. Crowds followed Him everywhere and repeatedly we read that Jesus ‘had compassion’ on them. But while He had compassion and He stopped to sit and fellowship, He never allowed it to distract Him. He never allowed it to get in the way of what He came for, and that was to suffer on the Cross for our sins. Jesus walking away from the crowds in Mark 1:36-39 wasn’t a result of a lack of compassion or disregard, it was a result of focus. Of intention on what was important, and that was the plans and purposes that God had laid out for Jesus while on earth.
Jesus set the example for us on how to live and how to be intentional with our actions and our time and our heart. He shows us the importance of spending time in prayer and the importance of stopping to have fellowship with others. He shows us that sometimes, we need to make the hard choices and go, even when others are looking for us to stay. But most importantly, He shows us what love looks like. Not the romantic Hollywood inspired love, but real pure love. Unselfish love that intentionally puts others first.
Life is frantic as it is and we’re all being pulled in every direction, making us more time poor by the day, so let’s be intentional. Let’s be intentional in spending time in prayer, just sitting at the feet of Jesus. Let’s get intentional about relationships, and invest more time into those that God wants us to invest time into and walk away from those that God is asking us to walk away from. Let’s get intentional about every area of our lives so that we can be intentional about being about our Father’s business and walking out His will and plans for us. Because at the end of the day, we’re here to glorify Him and point as many people to Him before we’re called to eternity, and that is something to be intentional about.