Seeing reality for what it is is what we call discernment. The work of discernment is very hard.
Lewis B. Smedes
YUP! On a good day, I typically have the attention span of a gnat. I get distracted by the slightest thing, too hot, too cold, too hungry, too thirsty, music too loud, silence too quiet, and what's that smell? It even tagged along to worship on Sunday. I don't know about you, but that distract-ability can permeate my spiritual life.
See this sign I snagged from a bin at a decorating store (it's okay, there were four others with it). I immediately saw a spiritual lesson which I shared on Twitter. Well, I'm not only thrilled that I've just learned this week how to Tweet from my phone, the big accomplishment here was that I wasn't totally thrown off the lesson by the misspelling of "cemetary". That's a big deal for me. Spelling and grammar errors can disrupt my train of thought almost as quickly as a train through the parlor.
For the astute and avid reader, you've probably already noticed that I hopscotch around a topic like so many kids on a playground. (Wait a minute, do kids even play hopscotch on playgrounds?) See what I mean?
Thanks to parents and age, there are some physical issues that also like to tag along with me. Nothing huge or debilitating, but annoying. In December, my doctor actually listened to me about a chronic concern, ran some tests, concurred with my diagnosis, and prescribed treatment. Yeah! Relief was finally in sight, but it would come with a price.
As a teacher, I think it prudent to stretch my students. For example, that may be learning multiple skills simultaneously, or maybe imposing opposing demands. My experience has shown God likes to do the same with us.
During the first stage of my treatment, God decided it was time to pry open the doors and windows of my heart and soul, and flood them with His Sunlight. Spiritual synthesis and clarity: it was as if all the pieces suddenly fell into place!
Dear Readers, I so pray that if you have never come to that place, you will very soon. I'm not talking about salvation; I'm talking about knowing that you know that you know, as Joyce Meyer says.
That Friday morning, I almost leapt from bed, ecstatic to get started on the work God has for me to do. My joy in being absolutely sure of His will propelled me.
Please don't get me wrong. God's word and the teachings of several strong men and women of faith have been feeding me many years. The Lord synthesized all the teachings He'd been providing, and shone His clarifying light. (It wasn't my doing at all; IT WAS ALL HIM!)
Then, just as my personal enlightenment was ensuing, treatment repercussions kicked in. What?!? "But, Lord..." I whined. This is my real, and hard confession: among my family inheritance is depression. For some, faith and love were not strong enough to win the battle. Even worse, though seemingly not quite as widespread, depression also plagues Tom's family, so our children are susceptible to a double dose.
Thanks to my wonderful doctor, my depression has been under control for quite a while, but as I told Tom, it seems to always hover in the distance, ready to swoop in at the least provocation to snatch my peace and joy. I knew the possible side effects of the treatment, not sleeping, headaches, mood swings, and thought I was prepared, means to an end. Awareness isn't always reality.
By day ten, I started going to the "dark place", as my son calls it. But this time, I'd seen Sunlight. Now, I had to see it and claim it. God held my hand as I reached deep inside, and kept repeating, "The joy if the Lord is my strength. " Once again, IT WAS HIM, NOT ME!
As I was telling Tom, I realized there will always be things to distract us off course, however, God's grace empowers us with discernment. He helps us live out the Serenity Prayer. We can distinguish between the doable and the loseable.
But, discernment is only the beginning. God wants us to decide to walk with Him by our own free will. And we can! We don't have to be tethered to our distractions. We can decide to CHOOSE JOY. I know I'm still really new to all this, but I'm suspecting that every time we use our God-given discernment to understand our distractions, and decide to choose joy we get better at it.
Please join me on this journey. I don't promise it will be easy, but I'm sure it's going to be worth it. Grab your coat and your hat, and let's go!
9 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ;