Having just finished 4 blog posts on my journey to Christ as a teen and a collegian, I would share some discernment tools that I learned. I learned a lot about how God operates through my experiences. I would like to share a few tips that might help us all chart a truer course in life.
1. God has a plan for you, but He wants your obedience and your trust. Remember the feather blowing around in the air at the beginning and end of Forest Gump? That may seem how life works from our perspective – by chance – but life isn’t like that. God has every step planned out for us. Some things, God causes to happen. Other things, God allows to happen so that a greater good may come about. God acts in our world through the order and intentionality that he built into nature as well. He acts through us when we ask Him to act through us. But God will not act through us if we refuse His Presence. Rejecting God leads to ultimate unhappiness. Looking back on how events in my life, even the tragic ones, tied together, I see how God used all things to bring about what was best.
2. God’s plan takes time to unfold, but we must be patient, and let it unfold. To God, as the Scriptures relate, a thousand years are but a day in His sight. We live in a culture of the instant. Jesus is clear in the Scriptures that God allows both the wheat and the weeds to grow in His field until harvest time. God acted pretty quickly in my life. Who knows how much He wants us to accomplish for His kingdom in our short time here. Why waste our lives kicking back against God? Why not do His will today?
3. Family is stable ground for us to stand on. I know that not everyone has the best of family. But if you do, count yourself blessed. Family are there when you need them. They understand you best. They are willing to share wisdom, and to provide good example, too. Without my grandmother’s example to guide me, who knows how long it might have taken to turn towards Christ? This lesson could also be entitled, “find a good mentor for you to confide in along the journey of discernment.”
4. When Christ calls, He wants you to follow. Now. Not later. Are you on the fence about following God’s calling for your life? Are you putting it off? Remember Jesus saying, “let the dead bury their dead.”? When Jesus says, “follow me” He doesn’t mean a week, a month, a year from now. He means now! I put off seminary until I could be sure that is what God was calling me to do. He gave me an unmistakable sign – one that was meant to be taken immediately.
5. Discernment is not between an evil choice and a good choice, but between two good choices. Is it hard to decide to avoid evil and do good? That is a moral choice. Discernment of a vocation is not a moral choice. It is a choice of how to live Christ’s abundant life in the best possible way – the way most pleasing to God. Marriage is good for most. Celibacy is better for some. Most are called to work in the fields of the world for the betterment of their family. Some are called to labor in the fields for the salvation of everyone’s family. Marriage is obviously good and desirable. But someone has to be set apart to care for the community of the faithful. Maybe it’s you?
6. Good discernment doesn’t always lead to clarity, but it does lead to peace. Did anyone in the Bible ever have clarity as God led them forward? Did Moses? Did Joshua? Did Jeremiah? Did Old Testament Joseph or New Testament Joseph? Or St. Paul? Discernment shows you the path. There is peace knowing that you are on the right path, and not cutting your way through the woods with a machete. You don’t need to hack your way through life. God provides for us a highway for holiness, and for helping others.
I hope this helps! God bless you all.