We’re all familiar with New Year’s resolutions. Maybe you’ve even made some. Lose weight. Work out. Eat healthy. Spend more time in the Word. Be more generous. Enjoy my family more, and work less. You’ve tried before and failed, but this time, you’re determined to succeed!
What if, instead of being determined, you decided to be intentional?
A resolution suggests a conflict that needs to be overcome, a solution to a problem. I’m overweight—that’s a problem. I resolve to exercise more and eat less. There’s the solution. But what’s the plan, the purpose, the real reason for it?
Making a resolution focuses on the difficulty, and declares with pride, “I’m going to do this!” We have a goal, and we work toward it, but when we hit a stumbling block, we often give up. We feel like we’ve failed, so we go right back to the habit that gives us comfort, the very habit we tried so hard to overcome.
Being intentional cultivates a purpose. To have intention is to have meaning. Not just a plan, but a reason for the plan. And it invites others to take part.
In the first chapter of Genesis, God repeatedly used the word, let, as He formed the earth and everything in it. The Hebrew word for let is from the root, amar, which means to declare, appoint, say, speak, utter, or…intend.
God purposed each piece of His creation into being. He didn’t throw together the heavens and the earth as a solution to a problem. He’s God—He has no problems. He didn’t swoop His hand out by accident and…whoops…there’s the world!
He cultivated—nurtured and helped His creation to grow out of love. Not pride or selfish ambition.
When He had finished letting everything be formed, the Creator turned to Jesus (who was the Word and was with God—see John 1:1), and the Holy Spirit (who was hovering over the waters—see Gen 1:2), and said, Let us make man in our image, in our likeness (Gen 1: 26).
It was a collaborative effort of intent. They weren’t determined by hook or by crook; they didn’t make a resolution to try harder, give more, or take less. God created man with intention. He had a purpose—to create a being that would reflect and spread His glory.
Instead of making us robots, He gave us the ability to make choices, some of which would result in turning from Him. So, as part of the Divine Plan, Jesus would be sent to redeem us.
Being fully man and fully God, I believe that Jesus chose the moment of His death. He intended to suffer so that we wouldn’t have to. He intended to endure the shame so that we could overcome ours. He intended to carry the guilt of sins that weren’t His so we could be forgiven of ours.
Jesus could have said, “It is finished,” long before He even went to the cross. But He chose the specific time to utter those words, not with resolve, but with intent. He intended to carry out His Father’s will, whatever the cost. Because He loved his little likenesses.
Can we do the same this year?
Instead of making a resolution, trying to stick with it, and giving up when our efforts are thwarted or when we fall off the wagon, what if we accepted the invitation to be intentional about our efforts?
Instead of making lofty resolutions that fizzle out, what if we resolved simply to refuse to allow ourselves to feel like a failure? If we decided to cultivate a purpose to those habits we’d like to change or that extra weight we desire to lose?
What if we accepted the finished work of Christ, and allowed that collaborative effort of the Trinity to infuse us with Divine Love? How would that change our lives this year?
What if we allowed God to disrupt our lives with His intention instead of resolving to do things by ourselves and for ourselves? What if we let others who have walked our road to help us? What if we reached a hand out to those who struggle with what we’ve overcome?
What if we gave up trying so hard and let go of our pride and selfish ambition, and let God take over? We might be surprised at the result. And we may discover that resting from our resolutions may give us the freedom we need to live a life worthy of God’s intentions.
Mary Dolan Flaherty is a quirky gal who loves to encourage people and make them laugh. She writes and speaks with self-deprecating humor and transparency, saying what most people think but won’t admit. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, whom she affectionately calls Hubbles, and has two grown children and two grand-dogs. Mary enjoys hiking, theatre, music, gardening, and traveling and can be found blogging at SonRiseInsights.blogspot.com. Mary is a regular contributor to RUBY magazine and blog.