Every spring, I am guilty of buying books with intention to read them soon, only to discover in later months, that they've laid dormant on a shelf, unattended and forgotten.
At the time of purchase, my intentions were righteous, along with the desire to have stretched out, lazy days that would be ripe for reading at leisure.
And, it's this time of year, the waning of summer, that brings me down to earth enough to dust my small library where those treasures have silently waited in their grand wrappings.
Looking at my forgotten purchases, though, it was an easy trade for those unexpected days filled with friends, family, flowers, and other sunshine things summer offers.
I want to gather these precious summer days to myself, like the squirrels gather their acorns, because the season is changing. I can feel it as surely as those little critters.
Many times, those unexpected detours from our intentions turn out to help get us ready for the winters, the difficulties in life.
Bonnie Donnelly is a member of the First Presbyterian Church in Marietta. Thoughts of Faith is a weekly column written by various ministers and lay people. Those interested in scheduling a date for writing a Thoughts of Faith column should contact Christy Hudson at 376-5446 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, if a Thoughts of Faith column is written at the writer's convenience and sent to The Times, it will run the first available date.
When we think about our intentions, Henri Nouwen said, "This is the great conversation in our life: to recognize and believe that the many unexpected events are not just disturbing interruptions of our projects, but the way in which God molds our hearts and prepares us."?
Experience, writes motivational teacher John Maxwell, is good only if it's reflected on and one learns from both his mistakes and successes.?
As Christians, we already have faith. When we accept God's gift of his Son, Jesus Christ, as our Savior, the decision is made. Once we bring Jesus to our heart, He doesn't leave us alone.
Righteous intention for faith, though, needs more than desire to grow. Living according to the values of Jesus means we embrace His will, His priorities, and His desires for our life.
And, living in discipleship isn't an automatic-pilot life. Jesus' last words to the first disciples were, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned." Mark. 16:15-16.
Jesus said to tell everyone that he had paid the penalty for sin and that those who believe in him can be forgiven and live eternally with God.
In John 15, Jesus speaks from his heart about the unity of his followers. He speaks of himself as a vine and his Father as a vine dresser who cuts away every branch that fails to bear fruit and prunes those that bear fruit so that they may bear still more.
Our Savior says, Dwell in me, and I shall dwell in you. There is nothing better, nothing more amazing, nothing more joyful than being in harmony with Jesus Christ.
And no one comes to the Father unless we accept Jesus as Lord of our lives. We decide that intention.
God comes to the heart of every person who has faith that He will come. We must first seek; only then will we find.
When we can say like the Samaritans, This is Christ, the Savior of the world, our heart has been opened and filled with light. (John 4:42).
And that is exactly the light every one of us needs for the winters of our lives.