Saturday, September 10, 2011

Living and Loving Intentionally

As you listen to the thoughts in your head, are you listening to fear or listening for God's still, small voice? Oftentimes we find ourselves thinking we are hearing God but oftentimes Satan disguises his voice in our fears. We believe the fear comes from within and we use any number of justifications to say it's all a fear because of _____________ (you fill in the blank). Our lives are often so busy we forget to listen for God's voice and assume we can hear it among the busyness and loud nature of our everyday lives. Unfortunately we forget about listening even when the person is right in front of us much less hearing God's voice and we can't even see Him. It requires intentionality. Relationships require intentionality. LOVE requires intentionality. We hear that quality over quantity is the best thing. Why then do we sell ourselves, our friends, our lives short when we don't take the time to dig deep and share ourselves with others and really grasp when others' share the depths of their hearts too? There are many reasons. First, we don't listen because we are far too distracted by the multitude of media and things going on around us. Just last night, while spending time with some of my favorite people, I found myself distracted and texting another good friend that was hundreds of miles away. Too worried about the emotions I was feeling adn talking them through with this friend...I almost missed some opportunities to talk to people I love and one of them, I don't get to talk to often.

Over the years, it always struck me how people would form and keep long-lasting relationships. I felt like even though I tried to keep in contact with people, they wouldn't return the gesture. In the last couple of years, I've found myself lonely and struggling at times because I felt like even the people I loved and the friends around me were so far away. Trying to figure out why these relationships were working and I wasn't developing new ones was beyond my thoughts. I wanted to have those deep last relationships that would traverse thick and thin. Even relationships with family members. Why did I always feel a strain when I know the other person didn't feel it? I felt it because I knew I wasn't upholding my end of the bargain. I was letting them do all the work. I was wrapped up in my own little world and rarely came out to see that there were others around me. In the last year, I had a friend who, even though he moved TOO far away, would call, text, email, FB chat me and always thought of me. Why would he do that? Why would he even care? I'd only known him 8 months before he left. His wife was the one I knew growing up. It's because he cared, it's because we were friends, it's because he realized the importance of loving his friends and being intentional and how it would keep our friendship alive. So, I started thinking, what would my relationships be like if I started doing that. In our media filled world, what if I took the time to call a friend on my way home from work? What if I called my sister, just to talk? What if I actually remembered to call my dad so he wouldn't worry that I'd dropped off the face of the planet? (You know how dads are...) What if I reached out to a new friend at church because I saw they were lonely? What if I invited someone to hang out with my friends and I? So that's what I did. I've found myself, despite fear of inquiring minds thinking things aren't as they are or fear of rejection. This was after much prayer and time spent with the Lord dealing with relationship issues. I'm excited to see where God takes me now. I know that He's preparing me for great things even in the darkest of moments. Are you living intentionally...loving intentionally lives?

The other thing I've always struggled with is my consistency in my daily devotions. Well, you guessed it, intentionality is required. Throughout this process, it's caused me to learn self-discipline and self-control. I think I've always had it but it's pushing me farther, it's causing me to want to be in the Word. God keeps allowing my circumstances to be such that I have no other choice but to draw near to Him. The reason I learned to love and life intentionally is because God intentionally loved my friend and he, in turn, loved the people in his life intentionally and I was fortunate to be one of those people. God taught me what it meant to live and love intentionally through one of His own children. I'm grateful everyday for this friend and the way he's walked life with me and even when I seemed like a knuckle-head, he stuck in it...he loved intentionally.

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