February is nearing and that has me thinking back several weeks to decisions inspired by the hope born in those early hours of a budding year. It is about the time when even the most dedicated have abandoned their fresh starts for well-worn paths and have long forgotten their New Year’s Resolutions.
We are a society that believes in (and thrives on) the moments of instant transformation — just check out any episode of Oprah. Sometimes I think my evangelical upbringing didn’t help me understand change. We church folks seem to get caught up in moments of talking about transformation. We get swept away in the emotion of our decisions, placing the emphasis on the one single word of obedience. The problem arises the next day, the next week, or maybe (like with our resolutions) the next month. No emotional epiphany leads us into our bad habits, unhealthy routines or addictions; rather, it is a thousand instances of making unconscious decisions. The samemust betrue for beginning new routines and adding positive practices to our lives. How many people vow on December 31st to begin exercising in the New Year? Yet, our success hinges on the decisions we make in the 8,760 hours that follow that moment. We truly do seem to glorify dramatic moments of change. In reality, it is the unnoticed moments, the numerous little decisions in in the aftermath that are most important. We do the same thing with discipleship.
My wife put up a sign in our kitchen the other day that reads: Be Intentional. When I first saw the sign it struck me that the substance of real change, while it may begin in those moments of clarity, is the result of living each day intentionally. Emotional moments are important; sometimes the path to change begins with getting knocked off your horse. But being a disciple is all about how you travel the journey. While real change might begin with the hope and anticipation of the first decision, it is actually realized in the hundred small choices we make each day.