From last week….
Are you a New Year’s Resolution kind of person? Do you like to make goals for a given year and push yourself toward those goals? I recently read this article titled, “18 Tricks to Make New Habits Stick.” Would you like to know the 18 items? All of us, in my humble opinion, are intrigued about the articles that contain 18 ideas here and 24 ways there of how to make life work more meaningfully and successfully. Am I right? They are the things we have heard a million times! Some of them are great ideas, but let us look at change of behavior rather than just change of practice.
I recently had a conversation with a young man at the Y where I work out. He told me he wanted to stop drinking. It was creating problems on many levels in his life and he wanted a new beginning. I asked him to describe the vision he had for his life. He said, “The vision I have for my life is to stop drinking.” He then asked me, “From a spiritual viewpoint, am I on track?” After assuring him that it is not my place to judge him but to help and support him, I shared with him, “The vision of your life is rooted in abundance, flourishing, joyful, productive, hopeful, peaceful, and full of Zoë life! The vision of your life is not that you want to stop drinking. If that is your vision, you may stop drinking but be a dry drunk because your practices (drinking too much) may change but your behavior doesn’t (irritable, dysfunction, etc.) The goal of Christian spiritual formation is not just to change our practices but ultimately change our behavior.
True change or transformation comes from using the VIM method. Vision, intention, and means. (Dallas Willard).
This week, let’s talk about Intention. This is about the power of making a decision. We must engage the will in order for genuine transformation of the soul to really happen. Do we intend to become the kind of persons who reflect the character of Christ? Have you ever made the decision that you will order your life around a set of practices that will empower you to do what you currently cannot do on your own strength and power?
As an example, do you have anyone you are struggling to forgive? Forgiveness does not happen when our emotions toward the person or situation changes. Forgiveness can only happen when we utilize our will and make a decision we are going to forgive. In time, the emotions follow the decision. That is how we are made. Decisions, rarely, if ever, follow emotions.
When the disciples were finding Jesus teaching to be too difficult, Jesus, very non-defensively said in essence…you make a decision what you would like to do. Peter said essentially, I have decided you, Jesus, have the words of eternal life. You alone are the way. Jesus consistently reveals the importance and the power of decision.
So a quick review…what is the vision you have for your life? Have you made a decision to follow Jesus teachings to do what you cannot now do on your own power. i.e. forgive?
Next week….we will spend time on the “Means” to the end of the “Vision.”