This Sunday is Pentecost when we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit to the Church. The promise of the Father, the Holy Spirit and power, for which we have been waiting has come.
“…gifts [are] given by the Spirit for the common good…one is given the word of wisdom…, another the word of knowledge…, another faith…, gifts of healing…, the effecting of miracles…,prophecy…, distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.”—1 Corinthians 12:7-11
“…He gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.”—Ephesians 4:10-12
Many of us have taken inventories to discover what our spiritual gifts are and we use the gifts given to us in ways that are uniquely us. The problem comes for me, and maybe for all of us, in knowing what we are to do and when we are to do it. What is Jesus calling us to right now? How does he want to use the gifts he has given us?
Discernment, which is itself one of the spiritual gifts—the gift of distinguishing of spirits—helps us know whose voice we are hearing? God’s? The Worlds? Our own? The voice of the evil one? The last voice loses its strength in the life of an apprentice of Jesus, so usually, our real choices are between what is good, better, best, and God’s will for us. As we pay attention, we are called to discern where God is working in any given situation and to discover if this is where God wants to use us.
Discernment is one of my strongest spiritual gifts and I am also trained in it. I often am able to see and know where God is and what he is doing in a given situation, but I started trying to discern God’s call a long time before I was trained in how to do it. Before training, a friend thought I should, and suggested I apply for the program for spiritual directors. In her recommendation for my application to seminary, she wrote, “She is always asking, ‘Where is God in this?’ and ‘What is God doing in this situation?’” I wasn’t aware of asking these questions, or of a call from God, until she stated it. This became part of my discernment to answer positively.
Another example of my discernment was in the call to write. I had always been asked to write up notes and put group thoughts down on paper, but it was not a passion. When I left seminary, I said that I wasn’t going to write anything, again. Ever. As you can see, that hasn’t turned out as planned. One day, I heard the words, “Would you like me to write something for the newsletter?” coming from my own mouth. I couldn’t stuff the words back in so the rest is history. It seemed that God was pleased. Sometimes, he sneaks up on me and I am doing what he chooses before I know it.
Recently, I have had the sense that I am being called to something else, maybe in addition to what I am doing now. Clouds have covered the path, but I sense movement, a path chosen and the journey begun, but the discovery of where I’m headed is still shrouded in the mist – in mystery and in mysticism. I have to hang on tight to Jesus who is with me or I am likely to lose my way.
To be continued….
Think of times when you knew God was calling you to use your gifts for ministry? What happened? How is he calling you, today?
Jesus said [to his disciples, us, his apprentices]…“Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”…he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit…”—John 20: 21-22