They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I would suggest the road to other consequences is paved with the same.
When I begin to instruct my 16-year-old son, he stops me with an escalating, “I know. I know!” And I respond to him, “Knowing doesn’t mean a thing if it doesn’t result in action.”
And yet, I have a Pilates exercise book as the current reading material in my bathroom. (I should point out that my Pilates reformer–my expensive, dusty, exercise equipment–is several rooms away.) My husband and I have been breezing through the content, even conversing as to the value of the specific exercises–and yet we have not gotten on the reformer to try them. We are not reformed.
Clearly, the road to poor fitness also is paved with good intentions–because “my back’s aching, my belt’s too tight, (the fat on) my hips’ shaking from the left and right…” and yet I am not on the reformer doing something to change that. I have good intentions.
Several years ago I tried a different church in town. And while I liked it and have a lot of respect for the pastors and the church’s unique mission, I chose not to attend there because I could never even intend to do what the sermons wanted me to do (namely, mission and service outreaches in and outside of our local community–and giving up chocolate). And while I consider feeling shamed by that admission, I just have to accept that God’s plan for me now includes outreaches closer to home and work. Namely, home and work. 🙂 And when I go to church, I want to not only intend to live out the sermon, I want to do so.
And so I changed the roads I drove to church because I didn’t want to pave a road to guilt by attempting to adopt someone else’s good intentions.
When I was a teenager, I discovered the verse in James that reads, “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins” (James 4:17). At that point, I determined not to learn any more “Thou shalts” because I figured the less I knew of what I was supposed to do, the less not doing those good things could count as sin.
But then I figured out that I knew I was supposed to be reading the Word and growing in my faith, so I had already blown it. If I didn’t read and grow, I was also sinning! Bummer. And so I became intentional about knowing the good I ought to be doing.
Each day, I write myself a list of what I need to get done. Not what I’d like to get done, but what I really need to complete. And yet I allow myself to be distracted (by writing blog posts, for example) and then blow off the work–only to pay dearly the next day. The road to overwhelming, stressful days is filled with long lists and good intentions (and better distractions). I will pay–tomorrow!
I saw a bumper sticker that simply read “Where are we going, and why am I in this handbasket?” It made me laugh–actually, it still makes me laugh. And yet knowing that my good intentions pave my roads to various consequences (poor physical fitness, stress, not doing the “good I ought to do,” such as not speaking God’s saving truth in love) reminds me that my good intentions–if I never act on them–could truly pave the road to hell for someone else. And those “someones” may one day find themselves asking the question on that bumper sticker I find so humorous (likely without the luxury of a handbasket).
Like my son, I know many things, but I need to heed my own lecture: “Knowing doesn’t mean a thing if it doesn’t result in action.”
Now, back to my To Do list…