Ahh, discernment – that magical wisdom that comes from out of the sky, is whispered into our waiting ear and provides us with all of the guidance and direction we could ever hope for. That’s what it’s supposed to be, right? I mean, I’m a believer, I’ve prayed for discernment, so I should be able to hear Him tell me what the heck I’m supposed to be doing, right? I mean, ok, maybe He won’t put a post-it note on my computer in the morning or post a billboard with a message directed at me, but if I am a good Christian and have done all those good Christian things like pray, tithe, and minister to others, it’ll be almost that clear, right?
If only that were true.
I am actually struggling with this a good deal these days. Here I am, nearly 50 years old and I struggle on a daily basis with what it is I want to do when I grow up.
Okay. That’s not really true. I have several things I want to do and believe I am good at, but being able to provide a living for myself doing these things is a completely different matter.
Just the other day, it literally took every ounce of energy I had to get out of bed and face the day ahead of me which really seems silly. I mean, I work from home, so it’s not like I have to face horrendous traffic, a terrible boss, difficult co-workers, or am in any danger, but still, I sat at my desk and wept, trying to determine what direction my life was supposed to be headed.
On the one hand, I could work my tail off, make myself indispensable in my job, and find some outlet or another on the side. This would, of course, be the most practical and “adult” option. But I am not in a job or a career that I chose, but rather something that I have fallen into as circumstances arose, so while it has been beneficial to me, it isn’t like this current job is my life’s work or even anything I have studied to do.
These were the things I was saying both to myself and to God as I walked my dog and prayed about my struggle. All of the sudden I had this overwhelming feeling that I was supposed to quit my job – just walk away, start putting my efforts into something that I truly do have a passion for and believe it will work out.
Outstanding! God was telling me to just walk away from my job! What more could I ask??
The problem is, was this really my discernment of God’s will for me or was it just the loud screaming of my heart’s desire? Why on earth would God tell me to walk away from everything? Is He calling me to step out of the boat, so to speak, and trust He will provide the way?
Well, it’s not like there isn’t precedence to this. God told Moses to not only walk away from his life, but to lead others with him. Jesus led hundreds of disciples away from their homes, families and lifestyles. I suppose He could be calling me in the same way…except there’s a significant difference here.
I’m not being “called” into the priesthood or some similar act of faith. Now, while one of my hearts’ desires is to write articles, posts and perhaps even books about faith, this isn’t the same as being called to lead a people out of slavery – physical or spiritual. What I am being called to do is to discern what is the right path to take, and that is, in a nutshell, the issue.
You see, the problem with being human and also being able to discern is that by nature they are completely opposite of one another. Being human I am also selfish. I want what I want when I want it. Period. I want chocolate ice cream, I go buy myself chocolate ice cream. Now. Not tomorrow. NOW! I don’t want to go to work today, I call in sick. I don’t want to go to work EVER, I quit. Done. But people who walk a life of faith are called to more than that. We are called to be accountable for our actions and, more importantly, how these actions impact those around us.
If I were to quit my job without another one lined up, there is the little problem of having to pay rent, buy food put gas in the car, etc.. Now while I don’t have a family to take care of, I do have my dog and have the responsibility of caring for her. I also have legal obligations with my landlord, the bank, and even my employer. Despite my desire to walk away from it all, I know that in so doing, I would be doing the exact opposite that I am called to do. I would be pointing people away from God, not toward Him.
And this is where discernment comes in.
While there are post aftet post from one denomination or theology to another, the bottom line comes down to this: It’s not about me
Dang it! How did we get back there again?!?! UGH!
Like it or not, that is the key to true discernment. The decision I make about my job, my life overall, the food I eat or the activities I participate in – anything – isn’t about me or my personal happiness. The process of discernment comes down to what choice will actually make a difference in this world that is both positive and points others in the direction of goodness and holiness.
So if I look back at my current situation, what decision will bring the most benefit to the world around me?
Well, in all honesty, I haven’t found my answer for that just yet. I am struggling and probably won’t have an answer very quickly unless Publisher’s Clearing House shows up at my door with that $7000/mo check…and let’s face it..that’s not likley to happen.
But here is what’s likely to happen. I will choose discernment over immediate gratification regardless of how difficult that choice may be on a day to day basis.