I like for things to make sense. And when they don’t make sense, I try to figure out why. And while I’m figuring out why I also try to discern how, “How can I make this…make sense?” I know, I wear myself out thinking. I’m sure Chris would tell you I wear him out too. There are a couple of things that have recently popped up in our life that just don’t make sense to me so I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to discern the why’s and how’s of these situations. Let me be upfront, if you’ve ever searched, “How to Discern God’s Will” this post is for you–written by someone who has used that search term, possibly more than once.
The other day while wrapped in these deep discernment thoughts, two images formed in my mind– I think in images and analogies. One of the images was of a chicken scratching around in the yard and the other was of the devil as portrayed in The Passion of the Christ. (By the way, if you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can live stream the movie for free–Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial)
One of my favorite things to do is watch the chickens scratch around our yard. (I’m tired of free-range chicken poop, but the months they lay eggs and the fact they eat bugs–including ticks and little snakes–makes me tolerate their free range habits.) I’m no scientist, only a casual chicken observer, but I think because of the placement of their eyes, they tilt their head from one side to the other when they are trying to discern the tasty morsel they happen upon in the grass. Their little beady eyes will blink and they’ll cock their hand from one side to the other. This is a good thing–a self-preservation instinct even. And, kind of off topic, we found out this Easter our chickens will not eat red jelly beans. I’m not sure why, but we were all surprised.
The other image that came to mind was a scene from The Passion of the Christ. Well, I’m not sure if it’s an actual scene or a compilation of a couple. In my mind, I see the figure that represents the devil in the movie trying to discern. According to the movie, while Jesus is praying in the Garden, the figure asks Him, “Who is your Father? Who are you?” The enemy is trying to discern who he is dealing with. The feeling in the movie every time I see the figure portraying the devil is one of trying to make sense of what is going on. During the Scourging at the Pillar scene in the movie, the enemy is seen slowly circling our Lord. Definitely brings to mind the passage found in 1 Peter 5:8, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
The impression I took away from these ponderings and images was it’s good to discern, “to distinguish, to separate out by diligent search, to examine.” But there are some things we just will not be able to completely figure out. If we were meant to completely understand everything, about everything, we have no need of trust or faith in God.
And maybe it’s just me, but it seems the more of my own effort I put into discerning God’s Will, the less I understand it. I have to be very careful that the question of how to discern God’s Will doesn’t become a distraction–because let’s face it, it’s much more fun to sit around discerning than standing at the sink doing dishes and swirling ideas are so much more enjoyable than swishing toilets. I have to remind myself, “If this is meant for me to understand, God will allow me the grace to understand it.”
As we’re trying to discern God’s Will, have any of you every asked for clarity? I may not have used the exact word “clarity” but I’ve asked many times to just “understand” or “see.” These can be great questions and even lovely prayers if kept in their proper place. I have found myself returning to a post Emily Freeman wrote about seeking clarity in decision making.
In nearly every major and sometimes not-so-major decision, I’ve prayed for clarity. Once when that didn’t seem to work, I even Googled how to make a decision. But lately, every time the word comes out of my mouth, I hesitate. I’m realizing for me, clarity can be a nicer word for control. If I could just see the future, I could make a good decision about this part of my life. (emphasis mine)
-Emily Freeman, One Question I Ask Myself Before I Pray for Clarity
Ah, clarity can sometimes equal control. Of course. We want to know, we want to see…we don’t want to mess up. All good intentions, but once again, removing our dependence for faith and trust in God. And have you thought, if we never mess up, there would be no need for one of God’s greatest gifts–mercy. (Bible verses about Mercy) So the more we depend on ourselves–especially under the guise of “just trying to discern God’s Will,” the less room we allow for God and the more room we make for pride. Think about it, how often have we said, “I’ve figured it out!” Instead of thanking God for showing us the way, answer our questions and illuminating our hearts and minds.
So what’s the solution? For me, I seek God’s Will, ask Him to help me understand, and trust He will provide His clarity at just the right time. I remind myself, He already knows, the answer is not obscured from Him.