Originally published Friday, 09 January 2015.
It only takes a few weeks after the new year begins before we realize that intention and resolve alone fail to make changes in our lives. The new year is filled with great intentions and hopes for change but too often we reach the middle of January having already missed our mark.
This is because a goal is not the same thing as a wish. That is, a goal to lose weight with no plan in place to do that, fails at the first buffet restaurant we visit. A goal to read the Bible in a year without a reading plan in place won't get us past Leviticus. Resolving to spend less money without a budget will only result in greater debt.
Goals for change always require specific steps that we take to reach those goals. In fact, most goals require sub goals, followed by specific steps and actions. As much as we wish otherwise, our broad goals are reached, not by amazing leaps and bounds, but by daily intentional steps and actions in the small things.
In today's world, we are used to instantaneous answers, quick responses, and fast results. We can get our packages in two days, our messages responded to in two minutes, and our questions to Siri answered in two seconds. We don't know what it is to wait two months to receive a letter via the pony express. We expect immediate results and are irritated when we don't get it.
What we don't realize is that the greater lessons are learned in the process of reaching our goal. While a momentous life changing event is wonderful and transforming, most of us don't experience those kind of events but a few times in our lives. Maybe never. Most of our days are filled with the mundane, with responsibilities, boring duties, and thankless chores. It's in those mundane and daily responsibilities where faith is lived out. It's in seeking God in all the small decisions, responses, and actions where the real change occurs. It's in facing the obstacles, working through problems, and getting messy in the process that God works to transform us.
It happens when we face each and every challenge of the day through the power of the gospel, remembering that we can do nothing without or apart from the grace of Christ at work in us. It happens when we fold laundry, giving thanks for the people God has given to us to love and serve. It happens when we say yes to God today and obey him now rather than wait for a different life circumstance or situation. It's in saying no to the distractions of life and sitting down to play with our children. It's in giving a kind word when the lady at the store is rude to us because we know that Jesus endured worse for our sakes. It's in saying no to the tempting afternoon snack and spending time in the word instead because we know it feeds our starving soul.
So if you've set goals for yourself this new year, remember that it's the little steps you take each day that move you forward to the finish line. And when you seek to live intentionally for Christ and through Christ in all the small moments and little decisions of your life, it will add up to the greater changes you long for.
Are your goals for this year more like wishes than actual goals? What intentional steps and daily actions can you take to move forward in your goals?