We have been talking about intentional living as a church. Lynne King discussed this specifically at Women at the Well as we kicked off our summer. Buster has been teaching from the pulpit about how to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Savior, Jesus Christ. As we think about the summer, we can also think about the same intentional approach for our entire lives—all for His Glory and not our own. The time to begin is now, no matter what our age!
Finding Ourselves in Him
In life, we have a choice. We either can become more gracious and loving, or we can grow bitter and resentful. We can be a blessing or we can become more and more difficult to be around. I know myself and how easy it would be to default to bitter and resentful. The flesh is weak. One of my prayer partners and mentors has said many times, “Girls, we have to decide now how we want to be! We have to be intentional!” Life in this fallen world is not easy and we are all going to face suffering, losses, and trials. We have to be in prayer to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Savior (Colossians 1:10), just as Buster has been teaching. We have to pray that God will make us a blessing to everyone and that at any age we will allow ourselves to be more and more Spirit led—more and more like Jesus. Those who continue to grow and be affected by the Word are simply displaying His activity in their lives. Yield to Him. He is worthy and very good.
As I think about my legacy, I am reminded of mistakes from my past and things I do not want as part of my legacy at all; things I wish could be forgotten. I think this is part of being human and having a sin nature. The only life we can observe, done perfectly well, without any mistakes or blemishes, is that of Jesus Christ. That being true, as I press forward, now in Christ, I am thankful that I can look towards being intentional with the rest of my days and prayerfully ask the Lord to give me a good legacy to leave; to ask Him to help me to finish well (Philippians 3:13–15).
What does a good legacy look like? What do I want to leave behind? What really matters? I think our achievements and accomplishments are good things, especially where they impact the Kingdom, but even then they are secondary to relationships. How we love, encourage, and care for other people is eternal. When we do these things, Jesus said, it is as if we are doing them for Him (Matthew 18:5, Matthew 10:40–42).
How can we continue to be gracious and loving in spite of obstacles and barriers; in spite of the myriad of struggles and sufferings that this fallen world contains?
He Must Increase
I have realized that as we get older, so many things decline, but there is one thing that gets better with age and that is we grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. When Moses went up on Mt. Sinai and was in the presence of the Lord, he was glowing. When he returned to the people, they had to put a veil over his face (Exodus 34:29–35)! Over time, this glow faded. Hear 2 Corinthians 3:16–18 ESV:
“But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
We grow stronger in the Lord because He is strong in us! No fading! No decline! Inwardly we are indeed growing stronger day by day, all because of Him (2 Corinthians 4:16)!
So, this is not about trying harder and doing more. This is about intentionally resting in whose we are and trusting Him to complete the good work He began in us (Philippians 1:6). When our eyes are fixed on Him (Hebrews 12:2), we are filled with His Spirit and the Spirit yields fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control (Galatians 5:22–23). Focus not on the fruit, focus on the giver (John 15:9).
So, here is what you can do to embrace this intentional life in the Spirit: determine each day when you will meet with the King. Spend time talking with Him and listening to Him in the Word. He will provide abundantly for you (John 10:10, Romans 5:17). Ask Him to direct you, to make you who He intended for you to be (James 1:22). Tell others what He is doing in your life and how you came to know Him. Ask Him for these opportunities and be ready (1 Peter 3:15)! Serve people in love and in His Name. All that we do here is for greater things in eternity for us and those around us. In everything, it is all about Christ (Mark 12:30–31). C.S. Lewis said, “Aim at Heaven and you will get Earth ‘thrown in’: aim at Earth and you will get neither.”
Times of change, whether wonderful or challenging, give us an opportunity to assess our direction and to be intentional about navigation. With our identity in Christ, yielded to His authority, and on the path of grace (Ephesians 1:3–8), we can trust that He will take us where our lives will count for His Glory (Ephesians 1:9–10). All praise is due to the One to whom we belong (Ephesians 1:12–14)!