“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”—Romans 12:2
Thomas Green, Jesuit priest, teacher and author of the book, WEEDS AMONG THE WHEAT, says, “Discernment, like prayer, is an art. It is learned by doing, not just by reading about it.” However, it is often wise to have some help and instruction along the way. Thomas teaches, writes, and as a spiritual director, helps people in the mechanics of discernment and the relationship with God which precedes discernment. A meditation on a Friday can’t begin to cover it all.
Green gives “three times” of making a discernment taken from St. Ignatius’, Spiritual Exercises. The first, Ignatius calls a “revelation time” in which the voice of God is so clear it is hardly discernment at all. I call this a “God telegram” and it would be lovely to always have this, but we wouldn’t need much faith development if it were. However, it is a prerequisite to spend enough time with God that we can tell his voice from other voices.
This story concerns my husband, too, who was still working for IBM but had been an ordained priest for seven years. We had been part of a traveling music, teaching, preaching ministry that had come to an end and were looking for a church to attend. Some members of our little congregation had gone to church in Windsor, so one morning I made the suggestion that we visit if we could make it from Longmont in time. We called; we could; we did.
When they knew Dave was available, they asked him to come help their priest who was not physically well and would soon retire. He accepted and we went there twice a week – on Sundays and Wednesday nights. When Dave was ordained, we had made the decision that he stay with IBM until he could retire which was about 10 years more. We needed the retirement pay and insurance. It seemed God was OK with this.
After some time, Dave was invited to become the Rector. We explained our situation but Dave checked with IBM to see if they were giving early retirement buy-outs. They weren’t nor did they intend to. But…I noticed that I kept decorating the Rectory (Priest’s house) in my imagination. I told myself that this was a bad idea; I was just going to be disappointed, but I couldn’t seem to stop. Finally, I prayed that if this was God calling, to please make it clear. A telegram couldn’t hurt. I didn’t tell Dave.
A week or two later, Dave called from work and said that IBM had announced a bridge buy-out to retirement; we could keep our insurance and retirement but not his salary. He ask me to pray about it and I said, “No.” He was shocked, so I quickly told him that I had been praying and this was the answer. A telegram. I like them. It might be a text-message, today.
“Discernment is first of all a habit, a way of seeing that eventually permeates our whole life. It is the journey from spiritual blindness (not seeing God anywhere or seeing him only where we expect to see him) to spiritual sight (finding God everywhere, especially where we least expect it).” ― Ruth Haley Barton, Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation
Stay Blessed – Donna