Over the past few months I have been looking at intentionality in most of the areas of my life. One of the truisms that I have been coming to understand is that life doesn’t just happen. It really doesn’t. Woody Allen once said: “eighty percent of success is showing up” and whilst Woody Allen is a very intelligent and funny guy, on this occasion I think he is very wrong. I’m sure we can all look back on moments in our own lives where we did show up but the results were far from successful. One of the greatest gifts that God gives to each and every one of us is total and unconditional acceptance, and this is through the work of Jesus Christ. However, another gift He gives us is increased blessing and favour, and the way this blessing and favour increases is by following Jesus, being gripped by Him and, well yes, living with the same intentionality as Jesus did throughout His life on earth.
A great friend and mentor once said to me: “…victory is never in the outcome, it is always in the choosing!” So there are no promises here for an easy life, but there is the promise of Life.
Recently I have had a Facebook cover photo on my page and on that photo it has had the following quote from the Spartan Warrior Credo: “Sweat more in practice, bleed less in war”. I have to admit these words have gripped me since the first time I read them. They made me think about every discipline that I commit to in my life, and some of the disciplines that I know I need to commit more to as I follow Jesus. Take one example, reading the Bible and praying at the start of each new day. This is one of the hardest disciplines for most of the blokes I know, and it is certainly one of the hardest disciplines in my own life. Have you ever asked the question: “Why do I need to get up that bit earlier to read the Bible and pray?” Or, “What’s the point of it anyway?”
Well let me share some of the personal observations I have been noting in my own life. When I do get up that little bit earlier to read the Bible and pray, I have intentionally stepped into the battle for my family and my own life. When I do string a few days together with this discipline I know that my family and I bleed less in war. I am a better husband, and a better dad, so I love my family much more more than I hurt them. The resources that I need to change the world around me, for the better, begin to increase significantly and I start to look a little more like the One I follow. To truly follow Jesus requires strength and intentionality. There is no other option, we have do the hard routines, we have to go into training, we have to practice knowing our very lives depend on it. Then, when we are called upon to fight for our faith, our families, the world and ourselves, we fight with God on our side and we bleed less.
What difference do you think it would it make to your life if you began to see your time in the Bible and in prayer each day, not so much as a religious chore, but so much more as training for the inevitable spiritual battle that we are all called up into?
And what difference would it make if we applied this thinking into all areas of our lives. As we often say at CVM, ‘…it’s time for a new kind of man’.
“The accidental life is not worth living!” – Neil Postman
Image Credit: Nathan Anderson