Five Minute Friday: Intentional

Along the Way @ mlsgregg.com

Gentle Reader,

Thursday, January 18, 1:59 p.m.

Fatigue is breathtaking.

Even after all these years of chronic illness and pain, the days when I can barely lift my head off of the pillow surprise me. Yes, I’m always tired. Always ready for a 3-hour nap. Always down for going to bed early and sleeping late. No, I never feel refreshed or renewed, no matter how many hours I log curled up under blankets. Yet there’s this whole other level of tired, one that defies explanation.

My skin, always pale, turns a shade close to that of White-Out. Dark circles rim my dull eyes. Limbs feel heavy. Heart rate slow. It requires mighty effort to take a shower.

And pressing the keys to form the words that make the sentences that bloom into paragraphs – you’d think I was recovering from participation in a decathlon. Took me a full two minutes to type that out.

Kate says: intentional.

Go.

Friday, January 19, 9:15 a.m.

Done on purpose. Deliberate.

This is what the dictionary tells me the word intentional means. A move from intentions, mere plans, to solid, concrete actions. Plan the plan then do the plan.

In the back of my Bible is a one-year reading plan. Every week mapped out neatly, bouncing from the Psalms to the Old Testament to the New. As I tick the boxes each day, I begin to experience the overarching narrative of Scripture in a new way: human stupidity, God’s great grace. The highs of poetry to the long lists of “begats” to the mind-bending lines of apocalyptic literature.

While this is not the first time I have attempted to read through my Bible in one year, this is the first time that I am determined to finish. And that, I think, is what moves us from intentions to intentional. To avoid remaining in the dream state and to side-step the urge to quit, we must have determination. A stick-to-it-iveness.

In a world of distractions and excuses, determination is a highly foreign concept. Along with its cousins discipline and self-control, words we would like to forget we know. Irrationally, we want to do whatever we want to do while still achieving the things we’d like to achieve. Or, perhaps not achieve. Perhaps we want to do whatever we want to do and just have the achievements handed to us on a silver platter.

Meditate on these words, from the mind of God through the pen of Paul:

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

– 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (NKJV)

Whatever thing you have been intending to do, small or big, will remain in the realm of theory and possibility without discipline. So lace up your shoes, literal or figurative, and get going. Put in the sweat equity, one drop at a time.

Rewards don’t come via intentions.

They are earned intentionally.

Stop.

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Photo Credit: Jacob Postuma
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Further Ponderings

Think

Gentle Reader,

First, thank you. The comments that ya’ll have left on the previous two posts have been a real blessing. Your encouragement means so much to me. Isn’t it cool how the Lord brings strangers (and some not-so-strangers) together when we need each other most?

Second, a question. What are you passionate about?

I’ve been thinking about that for awhile now, and have come up with this so far:

1. Social justice, particularly in the realm of sex trafficking. It makes me SICK to know that little girls are used and abused by grown men who should know far, far better.

2. Spiritual truth. The umbrella of Christian orthodoxy is wide enough to accommodate differing views on certain issues; things like the nature of tongues, the means God will use to heal illness and the great Calvin vs. Arminius debate are all up for consideration. Things like the Triune nature of God, the Incarnation of Christ and the Atonement are not. I realize that some of you will be offended at my next assertion, but I can’t avoid it. Mormons are not Christians. Neither are Jehovah’s Witnesses. Or Moonies. Or so many others. My heart aches for the people trapped within these cults and my soul burns with indignation at the lies.

3. Real equality for women. Call me a feminist if you want. I just can’t grasp the whole completementarian argument with its attendant insistence upon subordination within the Trinity. I don’t see that in Scripture. Nor do I understand why a woman should make less money than a man if they are doing the same job. Yet I don’t stand with what passes for equality today. Women serving lattes at coffee stands while clad in bikinis are just as objectified and belittled as their foremothers. There is no “liberation” in choosing to play the game.

4. Stewardship. I was taught to take care of what I had, even if it was second-hand. While I recognize that it’s easy to get trapped in the “what do people think of me?” hole when it comes to housekeeping and yard work, I do think that it’s important to practice proper stewardship in the home. There are variations of clean, depending on the person, but things like keeping up on the dishes and making the bed are simple, quick tasks that help to create a comfortable, peaceful environment. Everyone functions better when home feels safe.

5. Maturity. My generation seriously lacks it.

These areas cover a lot of potentially controversial ground, which leaves me with the suspicion that, if I could get past the social anxiety, I’d be a lot more confrontational. We’re taught to keep the waters smooth, the sailing peaceful. But maybe sometimes it shouldn’t be. Maybe sometimes the boat needs to rock and we need to be jolted out of our stupor.

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