Once a week for the next 2 months I will be covering the topic of discernment. We’ll learn how to discern much better!
I can hardly think of a theme that comes up more often than “trying to find our way”.
Especially for those of us who create or try to be intentional and grow.
Some think of discernment as “finding God’s will”, some as “knowing with path to take at a fork in the road”, some as “discovering or actualizing one’s calling”, and some think of it as learning to be better and more consistently attuned to God’s voice.
Many don’t realize that about 500 years ago a very keen and practical guide to discernment was created to teach Christians and Christian leaders how to discern the voice of God. Through the practice of these Spiritual Exercises (Ignatius of Loyola), we can be guided with far less angst and far greater freedom and peace as we choose our way and listen for God’s voice.
Millions of believers have undertaken learning and applying these sage writings on the topic, and consequently have better allowed the Holy Spirit to guide their life. Others find great solace in participating in Ignatian retreats. The spirituality influenced by Ignatian involves “find God in all things” and “laboring with God in the divine project of healing the world”. Prayer and action are combined as the spiritual muscles of experiencing God’s abundant love and hearing his voice develop.
Since basic theology tells us that God is everywhere present. (Of course, whether we actually live this out as we believe it is antoher matter.)
7 I can never escape from your Spirit!
I can never get away from your presence!
8 If I go up to heaven, you are there;
The study and exercise of Ignatian principles to improve the abilities of discernment involve the intellect, emotion, memory, and will.
I’ll be sharing those ways and methods here regularly to help you become categorically better at discernment.
What is the first exercise in learning discernment?
Preparing the “soil of one’s heart”.
Imagine that you’ve never run more than a few blocks in your entire lifetime. And maybe when you did it was just to avoid getting bitten by a dog or to catch the ice cream truck. How easy would it be to get up out of bed one early Saturday morning and complete a marathon without ever training your body? (What is it 26 point something miles? UGH.)
OUCH. . .would be the key word. Oh, and failure.
Beneficial and godly discernment requires that your heart and mind do some prep work too. Some inventory and reflection is needed. Some opening of our will to God. Some asking God to make you ready to hear his voice, change and work on your heart and mind, and improve your hearing (mainly, but not just the spiritual kind).
Start with these few questions:
Focus in on the area that requires discernment then ask,
1. What have I done in the past?
2. What am I doing now?
Try to be as specific as possible with your answers. Write them down, pray about them, and revisit them later.
This is no easy sledding and it helps to have a companion along the way.
More on discernment next week!
For more information about help with discernment in your life click here.
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Do you know anyone who’s struggling right now or at a crossroads? Would you please tell them about this Series?
Will you pray for me? I’m learning discernment too.
And please don’t leave without sharing something that I can pray about for you.