Deacon Blog Aug 2,2020
A while back someone asked me about discernment, not so much about a specific issue but the process. They had an important decision to make and wanted to make sure they were engaging with the Holy Spirit to do the right thing. First off, I was very excited they were using discernment to make a decision for themselves, and second, they were seeking the “right counsel” of the Holy Spirit. I told them they couldn’t lose, it was a win-win approach. I have come to rely heavily on discernment myself (to the extent of my understanding) and have begun to experience its peaceful effects already.
When we look “discernment” up in the dictionary it’s defined as “the quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure” or the “ability to perceive beyond the obvious”. I’ve struggled with this my whole life because, well, I’m a guy. Many of us do, I think. It isn’t simply an intellectual process as much as it involves the heart, mind, and soul intuitively sifting through the ‘obvious’ to peer at the essential. Tuning out the ‘noise’ of life, ignoring the busy-ness, embracing the truthful reality, and ignoring the messages the world casts about (many of them represent the work of evil). Discernment is not a fancy term for making what we generally regard as good decisions. The most scientific, analytical mind can do this. And do it well. That is like playing a sport without passion. We know the plays, we develop the skills, but those with desire win most often. They too have learned the plays and developed skills, but their desire and commitment set them apart. But discernment isn’t merely excavating ‘facts’ to create a waypoint. It cannot be accomplished with algorithms or formulaic method. For me, what discernment brings to the ‘table’ (my heart) is intimacy with the Trinity. In discernment I am allowing the source of wisdom to infuse my being. It teaches me how to get out of my own way and in a world of “self-centered” focus this is critical in making choices that serve humanity and not just ourselves. It promotes the most-valuable skill of trusting in a GOD who loves us and created us all with a level of LOVE that surpasses our ability to understand it. What is a faith that does not trust its creator? Trust, that our Heavenly Father desires only what is most beneficial for us.
So, in seeking out this path, where do we begin? How can we find peace with choices that may run contrary to our conscious, personal mindset? I say it this way because we are all different and employ individual habits in making decisions. Most of us settle into a method of decision-making that conforms to our personalities, experiences, and the logic we develop over time. Hopefully in the mix are our values and their impact on these choices. In the absence of these values we become mainly concerned with our own well-being and those of our loved ones. In their presence (and hopefully they imitate Christ) our decisions subtly blend and conform to HIS will. We begin to view our path through life in concert with the world around us. In cooperation with Heaven’s desires. Things become ‘ordered’ or canonized according to GOD’s will.
Most likely we’ve all heard the term Divine Love explained as “willing the good of the other”. We are always the one loving and being loved. I say this because as we enter the reality of discernment, making sure our choices do not trample someone else is a key. As a good friend of mine used to say, “If it doesn’t work for everyone…it doesn’t work”. I could write a whole blog (book) on this subject, but for now please know I am speaking of everyone who works to do their part in this life through physical effort or suffering for the kingdom. More on this at a later date. So, in discernment the skill is gazing deeper into a seemingly ‘fuzzy’ reality and receiving a clarity of direction with which to move forward. As we progress in discernment, reality seems less fuzzy and the Holy Spirit is infused in every thought and action we undertake. If another way of saying discernment is the acquisition of divine vision, then only a divine process can accomplish it. Activities such as a strong focused prayer life, fasting to attain discipline, and almsgiving to support the foundation of protection for both GOD’s people and HIS truth.
As parents we should teach our children discernment. It would give them confidence, hope, and competence in making choices that will make their lives, and the world, better. They would consider, first, what GOD wants them to do with the gift of life they have received. This can only be GOOD, mentally, physically, and spiritually, AND before you wonder sarcastically how we “miraculously” survived our childhood with a lot less, realize that is part of the problem and this is not the world we grew up in. It is infinitely more complicated and deceiving. This can be critical when they (our kids) find themselves in groups, or classrooms, where Satan is glamorized and support for abortion is a mandate for success (I just encountered both situations this week). Our children and young adults need the skill of discernment more than ever.
For some, discernment comes easy and almost subconscious. Maybe their lives are simpler or less complicated and sifting through the surrounding issues is easier. It could be as obvious as our individual brain chemistry, but whatever we have, to work with, will determine the effort we have to make to connect with Divine wisdom. Trust me when I say this, we should ALL be in this process. Regardless of the decisions we face (McDonalds or Taco Bell are not part of this effort), we should be placing them into the hands of our Creator and seeking this counsel. This is the primary work of the Holy Spirit. It is also the gateway to JOY. The specifics of discernment are too much to open up here (blog), but I will be happy to address it somewhere else if asked to. It brings such peace to know the biggest elements of our life are guided by the ‘source’ of truth. This, I believe, is Jesus’ offer to “un-burden” our hearts and minds for ‘HIS yoke is easy…HIS yoke is rest’.
GOD Bless You.
See You Soon!!!