A king penned those words to his son. King Solomon, considered to be the wisest man who ever lived, desired that his son learn to live with intentionality. He desired, his son follow his teaching, for he knew that it would make a difference in his life.
Something I have been stewing on for the last year or so, is living with intentionality. What exactly does that mean? The word intention, according to Webster, has several meanings: a determination to act in a certain way, resolve, what one intends to do or bring about, concept. It seems that many times in my life I am just moving from one thing to the next, without really thinking about what I am doing or for what purpose I am doing it. Superficially, I have what I would call good intentions, but that does not mean I am living with resolve or am committed to acting a certain way.
Life gets away from us, wouldn't you agree? Days blend into weeks, which blend into months, which blend into years. June 27th marked 30 years of marriage for my husband and I. As we sat at a nice restaurant enjoying our salmon, shrimp and lobster, we discussed what it means to live with intentionality. My spouse remarked how, so often, he lives just to get though the next day, week, deadline or whatever. You can fill in your own blanks. How often have you found yourself saying, "If I can just get through this dentist appointment, then I can relax," "If I can just get to the weekend, then I can kick back and feel less stressed," "If....then...."? But isn't that wishing our lives away? Aren't we missing every day opportunities to witness life and beauty?
If you have never listened to Tim McGraw's song Live Like You Were Dying, I'll include it at the end of this post so you can. There is a great message in that song, that we should live every day as if it is our last. I am not endorsing going absolutely mad and doing everything you ever thought about doing, like robbing a bank or hijacking an airplane, or killing your coworker! What I believe we need to do is live intentionally. Here are a few ways to live with intention.
1. Remember whose you are. If you are a Christ follower, then everything you do and every choice you make, should be made with the idea in mind that you are His. Whether it be that you are upholding and glorifying Him in the activities you choose, or that your are trusting Him for the difficulty you are going through. We will mess up, that is a given, but even in our mess ups we can remember He is ours and we are His.
2. Live in the present. I am all for planning. Being closer to retirement age, my spouse and I need to be thinking about the future, as well as planning for our eventual end of life tasks. However, we can and do get caught up in the web of worry, thinking so much about the "what ifs" that we miss the beautiful moments that are happening right now. Thinking too much about the future can make a person anxious and fearful, thus depriving them of all the precious opportunities along the journey of life.
3. Find beauty in the ugliness of life. Life is hard, we all would agree with that, but we do not have to let that make or break us. In Ann VosKamp's book 1000 Gifts, she talks about the "ugly beautiful". Read this post from her blog and it gives you an idea of what she is talking about. I love this concept, that we are created for joy and that even though things come wrapped in ugly paper doesn't mean that there isn't a beautiful gift inside. Our part is to be willing to look past the ugliness and see the beauty that He has for us. This can be especially hard when you are surrounded by people who only dwell on ugliness.
4. Remind yourself of His intentions for your life. Get back into the scripture! Over and over He speaks to what our lives should be and can be, if we intentionally let Him be our source of strength and our guide.
"Do no be anxious for anything..."
"Pray without ceasing..."
"Give thanks in all things..."
These verses didn't just happen haphazardly. God included them with the intention that we can live them by His power and might.
Every day comes with a choice. How am I going to live today? Am I going to let life carry me away with its concerns and ugliness or am I going to live with intention, trusting God and finding beauty in each moment?
King Solomon knew that living with intention would make his son a better man. Looking back at Proverbs 3 we can see four things he encouraged his son to do: remember his teaching, don't walk away from kindness and truth, trust in the Lord and do not be wise in his own eyes. We will all live life intentionally if we can remember those four things.