It feels to me like I’ve heard myself say the words intention, intentional and intentionality a lot lately. Being intentional is not just making wise decisions in the moment it’s choosing the wise path in advance. Intentionality is plotting the direction of your life, as opposed to the ‘on the spot’ wise decisions that keep us on the road that we’ve chosen, like steering the car, the constant adjustments that we make without thinking. But its futile to steer well on the wrong road! Intentionality chooses the right road. One of the qualities that I admire in my personal heroes is intentionality. It seems to me that those who exercise intentionality bear its fruit as good outcomes in their lives. A healthy marriage, a focused mind, a disciplined life, generous living, a greater capacity for more. Yet to live intentionally feels at odds sometimes with the world we live in. A world that says, instant satisfaction is the goal. Act now think later. If it feels good then it must be ok. Pleasure is the ultimate goal.
To live intentionally is to see beyond the instant into the realm of delayed gratification. We deny ourselves now for a greater reward later. Or we make wise, calculated decisions now knowing that the results will come further down the road. It’s the age old principle of sowing and reaping. You sow, you wait, there is new life, growth and then you harvest.
Wisdom shouts intentionality. It screams make good decisions now that will lead to a fuller life later. The book of Proverbs is full of it.
Wisdom says intentionally put safe boundaries in your marriage to protect it, safeguard your mind from fantasies and images that will lead you on a path that will eventually feel impossible to get off. It’s putting up strong defences now rather than crossing your fingers, hoping for the best and having to clean up the mess later. Our marriages exist in a storm of temptations and assaults from the world, the enemy and our own selfish lusts. If you knew there was a storm coming your way in the natural world you’d be nuts not to take the precautions necessary, like putting down sandbags, securing your property or moving to a safe place. So I’m on a rant now but you’d be mad not to take the precautions needed to safeguard your marriage from the storm that swirls around us. Build the wall of open and honest communication. Put up the fences of healthy boundaries around your relationships with the opposite sex, you know yourself how high they need to be, and don’t be worried about looking weird or offending others, a healthy marriage is more important. Get out the sandbags of wisdom these are what you fill you mind with. Intentionally and daily or at least regularly pull out the gold in your spouse. Speak out the good. Encourage, build up, ban criticism. OK enough on marriage for now, I could go on. Sorry one thing – enjoy each other 🙂
Wisdom says intentionally live a disciplined life (honestly I’m still battling this one!!) because it will lead to a full life. Plan to eat well, exercise regularly, study the scriptures daily, pray EVERYDAY, get enough sleep/rest and intentionally fill your life with life-giving friends.
Wisdom says be careful with your money, not so it becomes your security instead of God or not just so you can have more for yourself but so you can afford to be generous to others. Intentionality with your money is as simple as setting a budget and sticking to it.
Wisdom is asking God to enlarge your capacity. It’s intentionally running after the things of God and desiring more of Him in my life, not so I can grow fat with His goodness but so that I can give more of HIm away. It’s allowing God to stretch me and grow me beyond what I think is possible, even when it feels too difficult and the gap too huge. It’s permitting Him to bend me to His will when I feel like I might break. Trusting that if He needs to break me that’s ok because He needs to remake me again. It’s staying in the race when honestly I’d rather lie down and give in. It’s in those times, that the decision made in advance to finish the race, to not give in, to stay standing, in those places that God increases my capacity for more. This intentionality leads time and time again to my growth.
It must be turning 40, well I’m blaming that for a lot of things at the moment, but being intentional about the next 10, 20,30,40 years of my life seems very pressing right now. I can look back very clearly at the last 20 years and see the depth that came from the intentional decisions I made and that spurs me on to be even more intentional in the next how many years I have left.