A Summer of Discernment
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"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
I was remarking to a friend recently that I felt that this summer had been one of discernment for me. It just feels like several concerns that I have been thinking about and praying about for quite awhile seem to be finding answers falling into place in my thinking. I feel that I know what the Lord wants me to do in these situations and I have a peace about the situations and how I need to respond to them that I did not have previously.
Discerning God's will in our lives can sometimes happen quickly, but, most often, in my own life, I find that it takes time and comes through a process of prayer, scripture study and careful attention to what I experience in life events. It also involves my truly wanting to know God's will for my life, as well, and my willingness to listen for His still small voice in my heart.
In his book about The Serenity Prayer, Trevor Hudson speaks about discerning God's will for our life. He speaks about the "general will" that God has for each of our lives such as finding happiness in our job, living with integrity, etc. Trevor likens this to the general will that he has for his own children. He wants them to be happy in life and to be honest and people of integrity but doesn't have any specific expectations about what they do for a career, who they marry, etc. But, he also speaks to the "specific will" that God has for each of us and that God has something beautiful in mind for each of us to accomplish in this life. So, part of living our lives, according to Trevor, is for us to discern what this beautiful thing might be and then do it.
My own particular beliefs are more along the lines of what "Father Tim" has to say in the Mitford Series books by Jan Karon which is, "nothing that happens in the life of a child of God happens by accident." I believe that God put it in my heart at a very young age to be a teacher and to pursue music. I believe that God put my future husband in my path so that we could meet, grow in our relationship and eventually marry. I believe that these specific things happened for a purpose as have the other events of my life. Not everyone believes this way, I know. And yes, this way of believing always presents "tough" questions about why certain bad things happen in life. And, no, I don't have all those answers. And, no, I don't believe that God makes bad things happen. Rather, I rely on God's promise in Romans 8:28 that "all things work together for good to them that love God..." God can bring good out of anything.
You see, discerning God's will for our lives is hard. It's not always an easy thing. Sometimes it involves struggle and hard decisions. Trevor Hudson talks about the Quaker way of discernment which involves reflection, prayer and then coming to a clarity about which choice in a decision gives a feeling of inner peace. For me, finding this sense of peace only comes after much time spent in prayer and searching of scriptures. Listening to trusted Christian friends and life events around me is helpful, as well, but the prayer and scripture meditation is key for me. And finally, hearing that still small voice of God speaking is what gives me the peace I need to move forward.
Perhaps, the struggle of coming to discernment is necessary. When I struggle it is because there is something worth struggling for. The decision is not taken lightly. It has meaning in my life that comes with reasoning backed up by scripture and a commitment to serve God through my discernment and decision making. I am reminded of the saying, "good things come to those who wait." As Proverbs 16:4 says, "The Lord works out everything to its proper end..."
How do you discern God's will for your life? I hope you will share.
DebbieFollow my blog with Bloglovin