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Finding Intent: It’s That Time Again

It’s that time again when we get a little more reflective than usual. We look over the past 365 and smile to ourselves for what we got right and shake our heads over some of those decisions that got away from us. We may not make any resolutions, but we may make initial plans that we’ve been putting off. Somehow the dropping of the ball at Times Square gives us the impetus to make sure that this time next year a least something works out differently. We may decide too many inches have grown around our waist; I better join the gym.  We may look at the distance between us and our kin and say, it’s time to fix that. Maybe we’ve been moving around for so long, we’ve never learned to do that thing we’ve always wanted: play an instrument, enroll in a course or learn how to rest or even pick up a pickleball racquet.

When I was growing up, a youth leader used to always begin our Sunday evening, Young People’s Church Meeting with three profound questions: “Who are I? Why am I here? Where am I going?”  I was carefree and just learning the words to Aretha’s “Natural Woman,”  and so many other hits when I first heard those questions. I had some tenuous answers as a sheltered teenager living in Brooklyn, New York. 

I was also reading L’etranger, by Albert Camus, in my junior year which kept those penetrating three questions close by. During this unit of study, my French teacher, in what I considered an eccentric way, would often repeat the phrase La vie n’a pas de sens. La vie est absurde, ( Life has no meaning. Life is absurd.) She’d throw up her hands and look around the room peering at us. I can see her now with her lipstick painted outside her lip lines. 

Once I started college and rubbed shoulders with a wider world, those questions continued to keep me company. Within two years, I had to select a major and finish college with a sense of purpose. And I did, but, surprisingly, those three questions still hung over my life long after graduation. And every time a landmark in time rolled around, I’d find myself asking the same questions. 

The new year is one of those landmarks. Looking back at some of the answers I gave myself over the years, I realize that I never erased my previous answers, I merely broadened them in pyramid-like fashion. I have to thank a dear friend who had always reminded me: “God is at work in me both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” The details vary from day to day, week to week, year to year. The spirit and intent never change. 

Some greenery for food

Others for beauty

A sun to light the day

The moon and stars the night

Then with his own hands he first shaped us.

His spirit though— 

Is still making us, taking us, forming his intent in us.

Come on in ’24.

We’re ready for much, much more.

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