Living An Intentional Life

By Adam Tarver, Director of Student Ministries

We have 168 hours this week, or 10,080 minutes, or if you really manage your time closely–604,800 seconds. That means we all have the same amount of time this week. Now, what we don’t have is the same responsibilities. I cannot even begin to list all the things you may encounter this week. My question for you is–where is God amidst all that you will encounter this week?

The past few weeks I have spent a lot of time reading about the Catholic monk, Thomas Merton. Merton lived a wild life during his adolescent through young adult years; however, he eventually had a conversion experience that turned his life around. The most drastic change was the way Merton spent his time–he joined a monastery and dedicated all of his time to God. Now, before you disregard the rest of my blog, know that I am not encouraging you to quit your jobs, relationships, and lives to join a monastery. Not even Thomas Merton would encourage that. But what I am encouraging you to do is think about how you spend your time. I believe that we can all live more intentionally for God and it doesn’t have to mean joining a monastery, or going to seminary, or really changing that much of anything. The intentional life is about joining God’s presence in the everyday routines of life.

intentional life

With Easter having just passed, what better example is there of an intentional life than that of Jesus. Jesus’ life was lived intentionally for God from the beginning. In fact, his whole life was for God because he was (and is) God. In that sense, it seems almost too easy to choose Jesus as our example of the intentional life, but there is no better example. So why not take after the best?

Take a moment and think about all the ways that Jesus was intentional with the way he lived.

Matthew 9:10 “1And as he (Jesus) sat at dinner in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples.” (NRSV)

Mark 3:1-6 “1Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. 2They watched him to see whether he would cure him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come forward.” Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately conspired with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.” (NRSV)

Luke 8:43-48 “43 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. 44 She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.45 “Who touched me?” Jesus asked.When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.”46 But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.”47 Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. 48 Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.” (NRSV)

That list is just the beginning of how Jesus lived intentionally and is in no way an exhaustive list. I don’t know that a list can do justice because all of Jesus’ life was lived intentionally, from birth to death and everything in between. In Matthew 9:10 Jesus dines with those that ordinary folks in society would not have been caught dead sharing a meal with. In Mark 3:1-6 Jesus heals on the Sabbath, an unimaginable offense in this time period. In Luke 8:43-48 a woman who has been bleeding for years and has sought the help of doctors in the community yet still cannot be healed, touches Jesus and is miraculously healed. This woman was a problem in society. A problem that people would just like to go away. Yet Jesus, on his way to heal a man’s daughter who is near death, heals her. He stops and makes a point to the crowd of what has just happened. Jesus clearly cares more about restoring those who were outcast back into society more than he cared about his own reputation. Jesus is the presence of God lived among these people. Jesus lives intentionally.

And so can we. Much of the example that Jesus gives of the intentional life occurs in the middle of everyday events: sharing a meal, entering the church, and walking through town. Jesus is the presence of the sacred in ordinary, everyday events. Where are the places in your life that the sacred can intersect the mundane? Where can you be the presence of God?

How is this done? No drastic changes are required; just a change in perspective. In order to be the presence of God in ordinary, everyday places, you must look for God already at work in those places. Join in with what God is doing. God’s presence surrounds usall the time, each and every day. There is never a moment where we are outside of God’s presence. The question becomes then for us- do we have eyes to see? Or better yet- do we have eyes to find? The more we look for God the more we can intentionally be the presence of God to others.

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