Our sermons during the summer have been using the lectionary readings to look at some of the driving principles of our church. We've looked at hospitality, stability, contemplative living, obedient listening, being inetergenerational and being missional. Last night we looked at discernment using the story of Daniel interpreting Nebuchadnezzar's dream.
Pastor Jan described discernment as "the process of sacred listening that weighs and separtes what is true fromwhat is illusionary freeing us to love and serve God with our whole selves." She talked about some of the presuppositions involved with discernment.
First, we must be open to God. We can't discern God's will if we aren't open to Him.
Second, we must desire to do God's will. "God does not reveal His will to us if we don't want to do it."
Third, we must have an active knowledge of God. To discern His will, we must know Him.
Fourth, we must be (at least willing to be) free from our attachments. Attachments could be food, sex, music, solitude, new clothes, thrift stores, spirituality, exercise, entertainment, money, volunteering, politics, social issues, and so much more. If we are attached to education, for example, any discernment made about pursuing a new degree for example, would be skewed. Likewise, if we think education is a waste of time (an attachment toward anti-intellectualism) then our discerning of someone's dilemma to go to college or not would be bent. Pastor Jan noted that this is probably our biggest hurdle. We have attachments. They can get strong enough to become addictions. All are idols. These attachments keep us from fully knowing God and His will for us.
After having worked on some of those attachment issues, it's easy to feel like you're in the clear. It's also easy to let other attachments sneak in and find their way toward gaining strongholds. They require disciplined, honest examination of your life as well as a community where others know you well and you are open to having them speak to your life as well.
It's a wake up call to know I can't fully discern God's will if I'm working outside of those perameters above. I know I've missed out in the past. May the future be clearer.