I have been thinking a lot lately about what it takes to develop spiritual discernment. After all, how does one really know that the voices playing over and over in his head are really from God? You may be thinking, ‘He’s hearing voices. He must be crazy.’ But if you honestly look at the world around us, you would have to admit that we are surrounded by a plethora of voices. From the TV blaring in the background of life to peer pressure to the still, small voice speaking to our inner man, we have to decide which voices we will listen to on a regular basis.
Jesus said that His sheep know His voice. But how do I know that the ‘gut feeling’ or off-the-wall thought I have is really from God? Couldn’t it be caused by rotten meat from a fast food meal? Or the idea could be the result of years of TV and commercials creating a false reality and warped priorities? Or maybe it comes from my own desire to do something special for God? Yikes!
I just want to get to the point that I know when to wait, when to act, when to run and when to pray. Jesus seemed to always know what to do. Consider the time that Jesus learned that one of his close friends was very sick (John 11:1-46). Most people would rush to the scene but not Jesus. He waited two days until his friend, Lazarus, was dead. Jesus waited to make a point. Jesus waited because by doing so it would bring maximum glory to God. Jesus waited because He knew the spiritual significance of the situation. I want to be just like that. Part of my problems is that I want the revelation without the process. But there is no shortcut here.
You may be thinking, ‘Hey pal, give yourself a break. You’re not Jesus. You can’t every expect to have His level of discernment.’ And while that may be true, I do believe that the Spirit will reveal “all things” to us as Jesus promised before His crucifixion. I believe that most true Christians, including myself, have just begun to reach the outer edge of what it really means to be Spirit led.
Slowly, I’m starting to figure out more of the picture. Yesterday, I ‘felt’ compelled to stay at home instead of go to the Sunday service. While I don’t make a habit out of this practice, it is certainly nothing new either. I spent fruitful time in prayer and personal Bible study. Then I listened to a teaching tape by Clay McClean on the “Idols of Envy.” As I listened and asked God to show me the areas of envy in my life, I experienced a breakthrough. God delivered me from worrying about my physical attributes that aren’t necessarily what I would like for them to be. So what my hairline is receding? So what I’m not very tall? So what I don’t have muscles like a body builder? For years, I had allowed images of the perfect guy to haunt me.
While this could have happened anywhere, I believe that I was right where God wanted me to be. I might have never listend to that tape had I not taken the time on Sunday. Later on in the afternoon, I knew that I was supposed to go to the home fellowship gathering even though it was snowing and the roads were slick. Despite a half an hour trip taking more than an hour, I trudged on ahead to the gathering. I was the only one there except for my friend and his family. Yet, God used me to confirm something that was going on in the family. I stayed only a short time and then left. I had done my duty by bringing the confirmation needed for my friend to address the situation.
While coming back home from the meeting, I thought that my cell phone had fallen out of my pocket into the snow. I couldn’t find my cell phone anywhere. I looked all over the car several times and even called my friend’s house where the meeting was held. I almost went and bought a new one. But as I prayed about it, I decided to wait to replace it. I ‘knew’ that God was going to bring it back to me. Sure enough, I looked underneath the seat one last time a day later and discovered that it had gotten wedged underneath the seat where I couldn’t see it. These little situations are starting to build up my confidence in the spiritual discernment that God has given me.
The key seems to be staying close to God. Praying about anything and everything really does make a difference. Taking situations back to the Bible helps because the Holy Spirit will never contradict the Word.
As I things over to God and just wait, the answer comes at the most awkward time. I’ll be driving down the road or going to the bathroom or eating lunch and then all of a sudden, ‘BAM.’ The Holy Spirit impresses a thought or action on my heart.
The more I tend to love being with Jesus instead of simply getting the answer to my problems, the easier it becomes to discern what is God’s will in a situation. If we see first to know God, then everything else just has a way of falling into place.