Pomegranates by Chanan Mazal

Pomegranates by Chanan Mazal

Monday, 4 January 2016

Living With Intent



Awake …to arouse from a sleepless state, to make active, stir up

Intentional Living....Intentional living requires one to be aware of their fundamental beliefs and to be willing to make an effort to have their behavior reflect these beliefs in a form of integrity in relation to his or her conscience and environment.


...thanks Wikipedia



Despite a multitude of blessings in my life I found myself living in maintenance mode rather than fully alive in Christ. 

Accomplishments did not equate purpose, joy, or living awestruck in Christ. 

Most of us can relate to going through a season at one time or another feeling spiritually, personally or professionally stuck. 

Some may feel imprisoned by painful circumstances that were either self-created or completely out of your control.  Desperate prayers seem to go unheard.

Life goes on for those around you as you are drowning alone in grief or fear consumed with the guilt of past mistakes.  As a result of the weight of shame you refuse to enjoy life out of some unspoken self-imposed form of penitence.

Maybe you have been overwhelmed walking alongside someone you dearly love who is deeply suffering and you can do nothing to take the pain away.  It seems offensive to enjoy life in the midst of their agony and sorrow.

Perhaps you have had dreams placed on the back burner while life passed by and therefore begrudgingly resign to remaining in a place that you never wanted or intended to be.


For those who serve in ministry as leaders there can be additional guilt and fear to admit when we are struggling with doubt, dread or discontentment.  We do not want others to judge us for not being grateful or content enough.  We fear being exposed that despite all of our head knowledge we are still desperately craving a deep knowing of what it means to daily live in Christ.

After all, leaders should have no excuse since we have read almost every leadership and spiritual formation book out there.  Yes, we are an exciting bunch!  If anyone should know how to get unstuck it should be us. 

Then comes the striving.  Perhaps if I was less sinful and more spiritual somehow God would hear me and help?  We are tempted to take control and start the next new thing hoping that will fix things.  We fast and pray harder, anything to be able to earn God's next revelation or blessing!   

When we feel stuck, the ministry that once brought us life can also become the very thing that drains us.  If we are not careful we can begin to resent the very sheep that God gave us care over. 

Resentment can also build if the ministry work is soaring, yet, personal prayers continue to go unheard.  You know God can use you, but fear He will ask you to sacrifice the desires of your heart.

Then there is resignation.  I don't mean that literally, although that can sadly happen.  Resignation is the easiest to detect. This is when we go through the motions, waiting for the day to finish hoping no-one will notice.  Have you been there?

When we feel stuck we can be tempted to compound the problem by allowing our pride to keep our struggles to ourselves.  When we lead others in ministry we fear others will question our ability to lead or follow if we expose our anxieties or discontentment.  Then we are isolated and cut off from the very encouragement and support we desperately need in the seasons of insecurity and waiting.

Maybe you too have found yourself waking most mornings to dread and fear rather than being fully alive in Christ.   

We all have a unique story, but I realize many of us are searching for the same thing!

An awakening.

A lasting transformation to something more.

And that is where this all began.

In the midst of the exhaustion and haze I kept hearing a faint whisper.  The word intent seemed to keep popping up.

I would read a book on spiritual disciplines and the word intent would leap off the page.  I would sit down at church and the Pastor would talk about living with intent.


I thought I was safe enough when I was reading an article online with absolutely nothing to do with spiritual matters (I realize that is a ridiculous thought - defining things as secular or sacred since the whole earth is truly full of His glory, but perhaps that is for a whole other post… sorry, I get distracted sometimes!) and guess what phrase appeared?

Live with intent!

Don’t get me wrong I desperately wanted to hear from God at this time in my life. However, I craved hearing a phrase or word, such as ...

“I love you …rest in me… or how about… retire early Nicole!” (Don't judge ... nothing is impossible with God, I can dream!).

I admit I was sort of annoyed.   The word "intent" seemed to imply more work and discipline.  Due to my exhaustion this was the last thing I wanted to hear.

If I go to the definition from our friend Wikipedia this "intentional living" is achieved through being willing to make an effort to have my behaviour match my beliefs.

So what is wrong?  Have I simply failed due to a lack of will or effort on my part?  If that is true, that suggests I need to keep striving harder and that it is all up to me.  


Surely there is something more?

I set aside some time in solitude to read His word and sit quiet before Him in order to finally face the “I-word!”


For days I read about life in Him.  I read accounts of those who walked with Christ who were passionate, living with purpose making a difference in the lives of those they encountered.

As I travelled along side the disciples I noticed they did not just "talk" about good intentions nor did they just put more elbow grease and effort into their ministry.


I was also comforted by the fact that these men did not all of a sudden stop screwing up in life because they were hanging out with this pure and holy guy.


Instead the disciples simply ate, walked and enjoyed life together with Jesus. 


This seems almost too simple to believe?


It was this intentional life together in Christ that gave significance to their lives.  The challenge with this is that we are often tempted to define our significance by our status, roles, and accomplishments (or the lack there of).  We have been taught to earn and produce, which then creates this dilemma with fulfilment in simply being with and in Christ.

To be honest I am not sure where to start, but it became clear throughout this past year that writing would be an intentional part of the process of learning to live entwined joyfully in Christ.



So that is where this journal/ blog (journog, blournal???) and you come into the picture.

Despite my personal insecurities such as, my limited skills in the craft of writing, the fear of being judged, being too self-focused, offending others, or simply being irrelevant ...just to name a few ... I decided to take a huge leap of faith to document this journey.  

I also chose to share my experience through writing online because there is power in community.

For those who know me I realize that statement is hilarious coming from me.

 
The idea of writing with my thoughts exposed to others frankly terrifies a 99.9% introvert like myself. 

The truth is God designed us to have loving, grace-filled sojourners to walk along side us on this camino called life. 

I invite you to join me and make this castle your home where we can discover together how to live intentionally awake, fully alive in Christ. 


2 comments:

  1. I will love sharing your journey Nicole! This line just jumped out when you were describing the difference between a driven life of obligation, and a life in Christ: "Instead the disciples simply ate, walked and enjoyed life together with Jesus." I love it and that's what I want to do too. Every day. Thank you for being brave and daring to expose your thoughts. I loved reading what you had to share.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you so much Belinda, your writing has been a true gift that has certainly inspired me to want to be transparent and authentic. Here is to a new year enjoying living fully in Christ!

    ReplyDelete

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