(This post was originally published on the Our Words Collaborative website on January 25, 2017.)
“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22-24)
At the time I am writing this, it is right before the New Year and thoughts are turned toward goal setting and fresh starts. Resolutions are ever present in our minds and we are looking for ways to make our lives better. At the time you are reading this, we are a few weeks into the New Year so I want to ask you- How is it going? Are you getting a good start on those new goals? Do you feel good about where you are heading? Do you even jump on the resolution bandwagon?
The last few years I have not made resolutions per say, but I have done some soul searching, praying and contemplating over where I am at in my life. While I completely subscribe to submitting to God’s will, I am well aware that I can’t just sit back and do nothing while God “works His magic”. I must also work toward where I feel God is leading me. This means I do make goals according to what God’s direction is in my life. One way I stay focused on these goals is to pick one word to help guide my year. I love this practice and have been doing it for the past three years. Some of my ‘words’ have included simplify, balance and breathe.
I love the thought of choosing one word to encompass my next year’s journey; to help me hone in on the path and will of a God that loves me and blesses me daily. Actually I should say I usually do not completely choose this word on my own; it usually is told to me in various ways. While praying or even just thinking of the next year’s goals it will come to me; pops in my head randomly or I hear the word many times where before I had not heard it much at all. God speaks to us often, although it is not in a way that we might expect. We have to be aware of those random ‘pop-up’ thoughts in our head or songs/phrases/words we hear other places. The word that kept coming to mind for me and is now my 2017 word is ‘Intention’.
Intention is defined as a determination to act in a specified way and/or anything intended; purpose.
A fresh start can truly be obtained at any point in the year. I do not think you have to start the first of the year making goals, striving and living with purpose. However, it does provide a good starting point and a refreshing way to start the Christmas season off right. Christmas Day marks the beginning of the season of Christmas; the birth of Jesus can be the birth of your new life as well! If you haven’t made goals or thought about resolutions yet, that is ok! You don’t need the New Year to do so, but maybe consider doing some praying and soul searching now….what do you hear God telling you your word for the year is? What direction do you feel He is leading you to? What about your life do you feel He is asking you to change?
My word, Intention, brings to my mind many areas of my life, but the most important area is faith. When I think of the intention of my Faith life I came up with four words that help me to remember what my true intention is when it comes to my faith in this New Year…..
- Love– “Dear friends, let us love one another, for loves comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” (1 John 4:7) There is so much animosity in our world today. We don’t always see eye to eye and many disagreements are had and hurt felt when we do not handle the situations we are in with love. To show love to others is one of the greatest gifts we can give and also one of the most influential ways to witness to others about the love of Jesus. Bible verses of love, saying the name of Jesus and/or carrying a tangible reminder of love (a cross possibly) are all ways we can remind ourselves of the love we are to show to others despite what we may think of their choices or how they respond to us. Showing and intentionally expressing love is one sure way we can make a difference in the world.
- Pray– “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.” (Colossians 4:2) Prayer is an essential area of faith; to pray with gratitude for blessings and requests for changes is what makes God a central part of our lives. Prayer is a game changer and a necessary daily part of our lives. Setting aside time for daily prayer and speaking with God throughout our day helps bring this aspect to life.
- Act– “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” (1 John 3:18) The phrase ‘Actions speak louder than words’ comes to mind as well. It is so true and something to remember as we move forward with intention in our faith lives. We say we pray and we say we love, but are we showing it? This is a huge part of being a disciple! Of course we are to speak the words, but even more so we must show the love. Truly listening and being there for others, reaching out with encouragement and hope, dropping our own agendas and to do lists to check on a friend or others in need, pausing to let others speak instead of constantly telling about yourself; these are all ways that we can change the focus to serving others and being intentional about acting in a way that shows and shares the love of Jesus.
- Be– “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10) Rest is so very important, but something that seems to get pushed to the side many times. God intended for us to be at rest with Him in our minds and hearts, but if we are constantly on the go and do not refresh ourselves in Him, than our minds and hearts will have a hard time resting in Him. We must make time to be still. Setting aside a time to do so will invigorate all the other areas of our faith life and beyond. Rest is one other important way we are to be intentional with our faith.
These four words encompass how I want to continue on my path of intention in the New Year. I hope they encourage you as well to start fresh where ever you are in your faith journey. Living with intention is not striving for perfection, but is a way to be the ‘best version of ourselves’ in order to fulfill our God-given purposes and to spread the Gospel to others that need it. We, of course, live with the knowledge that God’s grace is ever abundant and his mercy ever-lasting; He forgives us of our sins and past mistakes and will continue to do so. He is always welcoming us into a life full of joy and love; one that is so much better than we could have ever imagined. We also must make the steps toward that life…it is our choice to live a life renewed. Will you join me this year in living a life with more intention and the purpose that God created for you?
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
Thank you so much for the grace and mercy you extend to us with each passing day. We understand that we have free will to choose how we desire, but we know that the best choice is to follow your guidance along our path in life. Thank you for the multitude of blessings you extend to us and the unfaltering love and hope you freely offer to us. Please help us to start fresh wherever we are in our journeys. Give us direction in the purpose You will for our lives and the goals, words and confidence to follow that purpose. We want to be renewed in You O Lord during this New Year and beyond. Help us to live with intention and live out our faith in love, prayer, actions and being still with You. We ask this in Your Precious Son’s name, Jesus.