Thoughts on Time and Intentional Love

By November 10, 2011My Life, Opinion

I want to share an email I received from my father.  My father writes these thought filled emails to his friends throughout the world.  He was a minister while I was growing up and now works to renew Classical Education in America as the founder of Cambridge Advisory.  He has never been without words and while we do not always see eye to eye, yesterday his words moved me.

Intentional Love

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Many of you know that I have an interfaith marriage and that Ross and I are raising our children with knowledge both of my Christian faith and Ross’ Jewish faith as well as open and honest exploration of other faiths around the world.  We are committed to this.  One thing I never cease to be amazed by, aside from any actual discussion of faith, is the incredible life of Jesus.  I do not believe in the exact way that my dad does, but I am never afraid to talk about the life of Jesus.  Thoughts of faith had not crossed my mind in some time other than our nightly prayers, but I have been really burdened of late with the pressures of time and living a valuable life and then I got this email from my dad.

Jesus lived only 33 years and changed the world. I am 33 years old and I had better get started making a difference.

Whatever you believe or don’t believe, I hope you find inspiration in these words and in this life as I did.  We should all fill our lives with this Intentional Love.


Dear Friend,

Perhaps as you engage today’s work and move into what has come to be known as “the holiday season,” you feel the press of time.  I know that I do!  It seems that there are not enough hours in the day, or days in the week, or weeks in the year, to accommodate all of the professional and personal demands placed on us.  When feeling overwhelmed, it is good to remember that Jesus had just three years to start a movement that would cover the whole earth and last forever.  He had just 1,000 days – the length of John Kennedy’s presidency.  Jesus accomplished his mission.  When, on the cross, he spoke the word “finished,” he was not referring to his life, but to his work.  (His life was far from over!)

How did he do it?  How did he accomplish such total mastery over time?  He had no money.  He had no formal education.  He had no social standing.  All he had was time—and precious little of that.  (Until his thirtieth year, he stayed at home, worked with his hands and took care of his mother.)

Here are three observations, meant to fortify you through the day.

First of all, Jesus used the time he had.  The constraints of time were altogether new to him.  Having inhabited eternity from before the beginning of space, light, matter and time, the experience of moving about in a frail body with a beating heart amidst a nervous, fearful, grave-bound generation was entirely new to him.  He made the most of every minute.  Like no other, he appreciated the brevity of the human journey.  He arose “a great while before the break of day” to go out into a solitary place and pray. [Mark 1:35]  He worked well into the evening—preaching, healing and feeding the hungry—and  and then slumped weary into the hold of the little ship.  [Mark 4:38]  He didn’t waste a minute.  He was the only person who ever lived who could honestly say, “I always do the will of my father.” [John 8:29]  He wasn’t on and off, or up and down, or in and out.  He was consistent.  He redeemed every millisecond.  Then, having faithfully “worked the works of him that sent me while it is day,” he encouraged his friends and followers to “work for the night is coming when man will work no more.” [John9:4]

Second, Jesus trusted his Heavenly Father with time.  This great 31st Psalm is a Psalm of David.  It was written at time when David’s daily work seemed impossible.  Everything and everyone was conspiring against him.  The world was closing in on him.  His duties were overwhelming and his enemies were already dancing on his grave.  David was unmoved.  He “trusted in the LORD.”  He declared, “My times are in thy hand.”  Jesus – the Son of David – did the same thing.  In fact, this Psalm of David was recited by Jesus when he hung on the cross!  When the world was crucifying him, Jesus looked up and said, “My times are in thy hand.”  In fact, from the cross, Jesus found time to preach the gospel, forgive sinners and make arrangements for his mother.

Third, Jesus multiplied his time by recruiting others.  This was the Master’s great secret.  He empowered others to do his work!   He was the great recruiter.  He was – and is – the great enabler of others.  Jesus, literally, had all the time in the world because he recruited others to accomplish his work.  He invented the “multiplier effect.”  Jesus was never in a hurry.  He was never rushed.  He was never wistful about the past or anxious about the future.  He was always fully engaged in the present.  Knowing that time is just an hiatus in eternity, he filled every moment with intentional love.  He had time to counsel the woman at the well.  He had time to dine with Zaccchaeus.  He had time for the lame man at Bethesda.  He had time to go out and find the blind man he had previously healed, who had subsequently been put out of the synagogue, so that he could invite him into the Kingdom of Heaven.  He had time to meet with Peter after the great denial.  This time wasn’t wasted.  In every case, when Jesus forgave and helped and healed, he recruited.

How could one man with only one thousand days start a movement that would cover the whole earth and last forever?  First, he used all the time he had.  Second, he trusted his Heavenly Father with time.  Third, he recruited others to finish his work—even as he is recruiting us right now.  Think of it.  The man who attended every dinner party to which he was invited, healed every disease with which he was confronted, and cancelled every funeral he ever attended, said to his followers, “Greater works than these shall [you] do.”  Jesus is still doing his work today – through us!  .



T. Robinson Ahlstrom


I hope that you, like me, found both a great sense of calm and a feeling of inspiration.  Not only can we accomplish great things with our lives, we can also fill them with love and laughter.

Join the discussion 10 Comments

  • Amber says:

    Beautifully written. I love that – a life filled with “intentional love”. I do my best to try and live that way, but sometimes I need a friendly reminder to do even more, and open my heart even wider. Thanks for sharing this!

  • What a lucky lady you are to have a father who challenges and inspires you!

    This is such a beautiful and inspiring letter full of great reminders. Our time here may be short but it is up to us to live and love intentionally. I can never hope to accomplish anything near that of Jesus, but I can learn many lessons from his life, death and resurrection and from the mercy and grace God shows me every single day.
    Amy ~ Eat. Live. Laugh. Shop. recently posted… How to score a free trip to Cancun. Part dos.My Profile

    • Brittany says:

      I was so moved by the remembering how much he accomplished in such a short time and how the lessons in this are not only inspirational from the standpoint of my faith and embracing a love for the people in this world but also because I now feel a renewed energy toward my own to do list!

  • vanita says:

    definitely inspiring. thanks for leading me here. you may have just given me the kickin the butt i needed! virtual hugs to you!
    vanita recently posted… Going from Blog to Biz and Giving Out FreebiesMy Profile

    • Brittany says:

      Hugs to you too! It gave me a kick in the butt. To do more with my life and to more of the things I have on the list that I really want to accomplish. Each day has so many opportunities!

  • Dana Stein says:

    Thanks for this. I love the reminder that Jesus was fully engaged in the present, and that he had time for the people around him. The focus of my study lately has been that God will give you the time you need to accomplish what He is calling you to do. Why do I always feel like I don’t have near enough time for all that I want to get done? Could it be that I am not focused (uh, yes), not committing my time, and not working enough with others? Here’s to living and loving intentionally!

  • I love this and you can not possibly know what timing this is for me…

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    • Brittany says:

      The timing of this letter was so perfect for me. I needed to hear it, I needed to remember my faith, I needed to re-invest in intentional living and loving. I hope I see you again soon and we can chat!

  • Muminator says:

    Lovely post, very moving.
    Muminator recently posted… Preparing for SantaMy Profile

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