Tuesday, December 15, 2015

I Believe I Can Fly, But Will I?

There have been several times that I think of things I could invent, or create, then later regret that I never acted on it because eventually someone else comes up with the idea and becomes wildly successful.

For example, in my mind I invented the digital picture frame and live video web streaming for high school athletic events. Obviously, neither one of those are my inventions, but I did at least have the idea before they were invented!

Which brings me to a little story....
“Five seagulls are sitting on a dock. One of them decides to fly away. How many seagulls are left?”  
“No, There are still five. Deciding to fly away and ACTUALLY flying away are two very different things.” 
“Listen carefully to me. Despite popular belief to the contrary, there is absolutely no power in intention. The seagull may intend to fly away, may decide to do so, may talk with the other seagulls about how wonderful it is to fly, but until the seagull flaps his wings and takes to the air, he is still on the dock. There’s no difference between that gull and all the others. Likewise, there is no difference in the person who intends to do things differently and the one who never thinks about it in the first place." (The Noticer by Andy Andrews) 
We often have great intentions and wild dreams of making things happen for ourselves believing that we could better ourselves, but then we fail in execution.

action trumps intention

Several years ago, I realized I was not living the life I should. I wanted a better marriage, better relationships, and to be a better parent. I knew that in order to achieve that, I needed a stronger relationship with God. I wanted to start reading the Bible more. I intended on spending less time watching TV and more time with God. I decided that one day I was going to start praying more often and become a better person; I was going to learn to follow Jesus.

At the time, I had great intentions with an aim to improve myself and, in a way, become more successful in life by living the way Jesus would want me to live. But, like that seagull, those intentions didn't lift me off the dock. I was still right where God left me. I hadn't moved a muscle. It wasn't until I had faith enough to take action, that I began to see the glory of God's work in my life.

After reading the following verse, I reflected on the difference between intentions and actions and what that meant for me....
"If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn't do it, it is sin for them." James 4:17
I knew what it was going to take for me to have a stronger relationship with God, but I failed to act. There were too many other priorities that took precedence. We can't improve on our goals, relationships, or our lives until we take an action. We have to make a move; take a step....have faith. But faith does no good unless there is action to accompany it. James 2:17 says,
"In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead." 
I think sometimes we get caught up in believing that having good intentions is enough. We want to know and love God. We want to follow Jesus and believe in Him and his Holy Spirit. But, how can we do those things when we don't make any effort to seek it out? How can we come to know and love God more when we don't spend time with Him? He is the Word - How can we know Him if we don't meditate on what He says?

For some, you may have intentions in other areas such as:

to be a better husband....
to be a better wife....
to be a better parent....
to serve more....
to be a better friend....

All of these are great intentions, and we can have faith we will get better, but they all demand an action in order to reveal God's glory!

In the book of Joshua (chapter 3), the Israelites are waiting on God to reveal a way to cross the Jordan and get to the promise land on the other side. - They have good intentions. They want to follow God's will and reach His promised land. But, right in front of them is a very large, very deep, river.

God told Joshua that he would make a way and to tell the priests to carry the ark ahead of the Israelites, stand in the river, and wait. Now this time of year, at harvest time, the Jordan River is at flood stage. The waters are rushing and any attempt to cross would be futile. People could lose their lives.

At this point I have to wonder what the priests were thinking. They are holding a very precious item at the edge of a rushing river wondering, "Did you REALLY say to cross the river?" Are you SURE you want us to try and cross these raging rapids of white water? We won't be able to hold up the ark and swim at the same time!"

How many times God impresses on us to do something or gives us opportunities and we fail to act? He gives us ideas and we intend to follow through with them, but we lack the faith to commit an action. The priests didn't even get the instruction from God Himself, God told Joshua to instruct the priests with what they needed to do.

The Holy Spirit prompts us to action and we wonder, 'are you SURE that's what you want me to do?' - and then we fail to respond.

Fortunately, for the Israelites, the priests acted and took the steps they needed. They had faith to move beyond their fears of drowning and put their feet in a raging river.... that's when God parted the waters. That's when God revealed His glory.

In Ephesians, Paul describes some instructions for Christian Living.
"When you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus, you were taught, in regard to your formal way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." Ephesians 4:21-24
For me, having good intentions in getting closer to God was good, but I was in sin because I failed to act on His promptings. I failed to execute the instructions He was giving me.  The glory of God was not being revealed in all these areas in my life, because I was not being obedient. I was still holding on to my former ways of life. My attitude needed to change and I needed to live according to God's truth.

Everyone has good intentions to better themselves and provide nice things for their family. They work and work to achieve success. They have great intentions, but they are misguided in their actions. You know that slogan, "God helps those who help themselves"? I believe people have twisted that to mean that in order to receive the blessings of God, people have to work harder according to the world's definition of success. Instead of leaning on the will of God, people believe they have to provide for themselves, which to me is contrary to what God's word says in Matthew 6.

seek first

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." Matthew 6:33
Seeking takes action. We have to not only have faith but seek it out. We can have good intentions in all these areas of our lives, but until we seek Him first, we won't see the glory of God revealed in those areas. We may have some success according to the world's standards, but there is a difference in that and what God wants to reveal to us.

It wasn't until I was obedient to God and His promptings to turn off the TV, put down the remote, and seek His kingdom that I began to feel like my relationship with God was getting stronger. I had to make an intentional effort to seek His will and be obedient before He would reveal more and more of His glory in the other areas of my life. What He was trying to show me is that in order to see improvements in the other areas of my life, I had to know how He wanted me to act. That only came from reading His Word.

What I have learned through this is that my good intentions, when turned into actions, changed my life. I believe now I can get off the dock and fly to new heights in becoming a better wife, mother, servant, and friend because I continue to strive to be obedient in God's instruction, seek Him first, open my wings and jump.
"And we will soar on wings like eagles, we will run and not grown weary, we will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:31

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