I attended The Sound of Music with a friend on Saturday. The summons to search until we find what we’re called to and then live it fully is still ringing in my head:
A dream that will need
All the love you can give
Every day of your life
For as long as you live
There’s a determination to it, a purposefulness. An intentionality.
Climb every mountain
Search high and low
Follow every byway
Every path you know
Climb every mountain
Ford every stream
Follow every rainbow
Till you find your dream
It’s not just The Sound of Music that calls us to search for a dream that will take all the love we can give, and then pour ourselves into it.
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jer 29:13, c.f. Deut 4:29, Matt 7:7-8)
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30)
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, . . .” (Col 3:23)
It’s that time of year when I prayerfully choose a new word that I want to shape my life over the coming year. Or when that new word chooses me. This year, that word is intentional.
Over the past decade, I’ve been living the call to make my home in God’s love. That has meant letting go of plans and goals and career, and learning to rest in God’s love. That call will never change. It’s the call to all of us at the heart of the gospel, and the root from which our life of discipleship springs:
“Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me. . . Make yourselves at home in my love." (John 15:4,9 The Message)
But God offers us a number of different images to help us see how to make our homes in God’s love. Some, like the vine or the infant, seem quite passive. They highlight God’s role in the process and our dependence on him. We make our home in God’s love by trusting his goodness and his grace and learning to rest in that love.
Other images, like the bride and the athlete, make our part in the process of transformation and shared life more explicit. We choose. We say no to some things to say yes to something better. In these images, “love” is as active a word as “run.”
The two are not opposites. They fit together and complement each other. It takes at least as much intentionality to rest and trust as to work. Part of making our home in God's love is responding to his call to come to him and rest (Matt 11:28-30). Another part of making our home in God's love is keeping God's commands to love Him and others:
“I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love. That’s what I’ve done—kept my Father’s commands and made myself at home in his love."
(John 15:9-10, The Message)
Though there is much that only God can do in us, He chooses to do very little of that without some sort of involvement by us. (For example, it is as we contemplate the Lord's glory that we are transformed into His likeness. 2 Cor 3:18, c.f. Phil 2:12-13) And this is grace. God honors us by making us in his image, persons with real choice, real agency. He pours out his love and his salvation, but he does not force them on us. He respects us by refusing to write our stories without our involvement. We co-write our stories with God in the ways we choose to respond to Him.
This year I began praying about my new word for the new year as I was paying attention to what was taking place in me during Advent. I was feeling all over again both my longing for God and the places I resist his coming as King in my life. I was becoming aware of, and grieving, the places I’ve slipped into laziness.
Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been working through the questions posed by Lara Casey in her 2020 goal setting blog post series. I’ve pondered her question, “Where do you want to be when you’re 80 (or 90 or 100)?” and paid attention to the places I want to change. As a result, I’ve written out several areas in which I want to be intentional this year, and why it matters. For example, I want to eat intentionally because I don’t want sweets, or anything else, to take God's place or mine in deciding what this body does. And because this body is entrusted to me by God and I love Him by caring for it well. I want to be more intentional about ending my days with Scripture, because I want this God who loves me and whom I love to have the first and the final word in my days.
What about you? Are there places you want to be more intentional in the New Year? Is there a new word that seems to be calling to you as we begin this new year? I'd love to hear it!