Wednesday, July 28

Thoughts about discernment

So, reading over at Thom's fine blog, Ad Dominum, about discernment got me to thinking (as I am wont to do). Not Discernment in the ecclesiastical jargon (being the process leading towards a possible ordained calling in the church), but discernment in the more general definition of being able "to distinguish mentally; recognize as distinct or different; discriminate" (Thank you Mr. Webster).

A common belief when trying to suss things out about life and God and all is to attempt to 'discern' the will of God. I find this to be incorrect and based upon a fallacious assumption, that is that we can know the will of God.

To determine such a thing, we would need all of the information to understand the situation at hand (which, in real life, we never have), recognize all of the effects of the courses of actions (again, something we don't have access to) and then analyze them to derive the course of action which would be most in line with the aims of the Almighty (assuming you're rock-solid on what those aims are). Good luck with that.

For myself, discernment is instead a matter of hearing and understanding what the Divine is telling us. It requires we engage in a conversation with the Almighty. If we're not listening, then all the instruction from above is for naught. Further, if we don't ask questions, and especially the right type of questions, we're not going to get answers which seem meaningful. Finally, if the answers you hear don't fit with where you are or are going, then the question comes do we trust the message and follow it or do we second guess the Divine? This brings me to the above image...our beloved GPS Navigator.

Consider the following analogy. Let us suppose that the Divine is like an infallible and omniscient GPS Navigator (call it a GodPS) which already knows where your destination is but only responds when queried.

If you don't ask for directions, you'll not get any.

You ask it "Do I turn here?" "Yes"
uh....didn't ask in which direction, did ya?

If the GodPS says turn right and you think there's a better way, rock on, but don't blame anyone but yourself when you've spent 15 minutes driving around a subdivision that you never meant to go into.

Sometimes (more often than I'd like to admit), you get directions which seem to lead down blind alleys and dead-ends. Sometimes, it's what's down that alley that is important and transformative, not if it's a shortcut. We need to trust in the directions given, cause they're based on the BIG map which we never see.

God won't steer you wrong if you listen to where he's telling you to go.

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