It only takes a few weeks after the new year begins before we realize that intention and resolve alone fail to change our lives.
The new year is filled with great intentions and hopes for change but too often we reach the middle of January having already failed.
This is because a goal is not the same thing as a wish. That is, a goal to lose weight with no plan in place to do that, fails at the first buffet restaurant we visit. A goal to read the Bible in a year without a reading plan in place won’t get us past Leviticus. Resolving to spend less money without a budget will only result in greater debt.
Goals for change always require specific steps that we take to reach those goals. In fact, most goals require sub goals, followed by specific steps and actions. As much as we wish otherwise, our broad goals are reached, not by amazing leaps and bounds, but by daily actions in the small things.
In today’s world, we are used to instantaneous answers, quick responses, and fast results. We can get our packages in two days, our messages responded to in two minutes, and our questions to Siri answered in two seconds. We don’t know what it is to wait two months to receive a letter via the pony express. We expect immediate results and are irritated when we don’t get it.
What we don’t realize is that the greater lessons are learned in the process of reaching our goal. While a momentous life changing event is wonderful and transforming, most of us don’t experience those kind of events but a few times in our lives. Maybe never. Most of our days are filled with the mundane, with responsibilities, boring duties, and thankless chores. It’s in those mundane and daily responsibilities where faith is lived out. It’s in seeking God in all the small decisions, responses, and actions where the real change occurs. It’s in facing the obstacles, working through problems, and getting messy in the process that God works to transform us.
It happens when we face each and every mess of the day through the power of the gospel. It happens when we fold laundry, giving thanks for the people God has given to us to love and serve. It happens when we say yes to God today and obey him now rather than wait for a different life circumstance or situation. It’s in saying no to the distractions of life and sitting down to play with our children. It’s in giving a kind word when the lady at the store is rude to us because we know that Jesus endured worse for our sakes. It’s in saying no to the tempting afternoon snack and spending time in the word instead because we know it feeds our starving soul.
When we seek to live intentionally for Christ in all the small moments and little decisions of our lives, it adds up to the greater changes we hope for.
My one word for this year is Seek. As I pursue this word and explore it’s meaning, I could quite possibly let the whole year go by and never really find the One I seek. I could wait and hope for one big event, epiphany, or life changing moment. I could remain in place, hoping that everything in my life lines up just right, making my journey quick and simple.
The questions is, will I miss out on all that I can learn and grow this year by passing on the little opportunities that come my way each day? Will I only seek God in the big things and not in all the little wonders of every day? Will I come to the end of the year and find that I didn’t go past the front door in my journey to seek him?
As I invest in this journey, as I seek God with all my heart this year, I need to take specific, small steps forward. There are a few steps I’ve started on and ones that I can take every day:
1. Social media is a big distraction for me (isn’t for everyone?). I am committing to not join the blogging community on the weekends. I will schedule in advance any posts or FB statuses that fall on the weekend. I will use my weekends to focus on rest, reading, and communing with God, friends, and family.
2. Checking email takes up a lot of time as well and keeps me from doing more important things. I am asking most places to take me off their email list. If I want to buy something from a store, I can look it up on my own. Receiving notices every day of the latest sale only keeps me focused on accumulating more things. And the more I accumulate, the less room I have in my life for God.
3. They say that we can only effectively manage a few things well. When our hands are involved in too many projects, nothing is done well. I am weeding out things in my life that are not necessary, focusing on what I can do best. I am simplifying, prioritizing, condensing, and narrowing my focus.
Do you have goals or a “one word” for this year? Have you developed specific small steps to lead you to that goal?
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