Learning to Discern

road-to-nowhere_FotorOne of the many lessons I have had to learn and grow in (continually), is who and who not to listen to.  I believe the majority of the people around me have the best intentions and want the best for our family; but I always have to remember they are speaking to me through their own worldview lens.  They may be risk averse, so their advice is just settle down; some come from the perspective that we must only do what is logical, and in that case what we are doing really does not make sense to the world; other people come to the table with a higher risk tolerance than I have, and may suggest simply selling it all and moving without a plan.  There are so many different perspectives, none of them are necessarily more wrong or right than the other, but it is my job to discern the Lord’s will for our family and walk the path he has called us to.  That is not an easy task, especially for some one who is a recovering people pleaser.

One such situation happened a few weeks ago.  I was talking to a good friend of mine who has influenced me in many positive ways.  Our paths are different, our spiritual gifts are different, our world views are slightly different, but we do share the same Savior, so my level of discernment is usually down around him.  He challenged me to be cautious and discern well the voice of the Holy Spirit versus my flesh and that I must be cautious when stating the “Lord is calling our family” to something specific.  While his advice was good and was given with good intentions, there was also a level of doubt that was planted in my heart.  Did I hear from the Lord correctly on this move and should I openly proclaim this is the direction the Lord is taking our family?  This seed of doubt floated around in my mind for days, tainting various areas of my mind with more doubt.

At the same time I was reading through Genesis about Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc. and the specific direction God gave to those men.  Even in the midst of their own frailty and misguided steps, God was faithful and He implemented the promised plans.  Overall, these men were faithful to God’s voice even in the midst of some extreme situations that tested their faith.  In the end the seed of doubt planted in my mind was overcome by the assurance of my Father.  I was reminded that we do our best to listen to His voice and in the end, His grace covers us even in the midst of our mis-steps and lack of faith.  There is one thing I will not compromise on…ever!  When Danielle and I come into agreement that God is moving us in a specific direction, I will not shy away from proclaiming that direction.  Why?  Because I absolutely DO NOT want the credit that comes from the results of stepping out in faith.  I would rather risk proclaiming His direction in my life and Him getting the credit for the results than to suffer from the embarrassment of me mis-hearing God and failing miserably.

The beauty of walking through these types of situations is it causes me to reflect and enter into conversations in a more prayerful state.  When people ask me for guidance, am I speaking out of my flesh or am I speaking out of my faith in a God who has the perfect plan?  Am I intentionally being an encouragement or am I attempting to bring the other person into alignment with what I am comfortable with?  What are my intentions in every conversation, to further my agenda or to seek out God’s perfect plan and to discern how His children fit in the story?

I have works to accomplish today.  Are they advancing heaven or hell?  That is the question.

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:2, NLT)

Blessings,

Scott

Counting the Cost

friends3_FotorWhoever says they love change and are not willing to admit there are struggles and challenges along the way are either lying or incredibly selfish.  Transition and change is difficult on all parties involved.  We grow fond of the things we are surrounded with, whether it is a house, our neighborhood, or really close friends and family.  I found myself asking the question this afternoon, “Lord, I am not sure surrendering our family to your will is worth it?”  I actually contemplated what disobedience would look like for me, if it meant my family could continue in the life and relationships they currently have…but then I remember His grace and its all consuming effects.

Danielle and I both went to pickup the girls from their last day of school late this morning.  We picked up our oldest daughter to the sounds of middle schoolers running out screaming in joy that school was over for the summer.  The first question out of my daughter’s mouth was, can we change a specific detail of her birthday party so more of her friends could come.  Our obvious answer, was absolutely.  She has built incredible relationships and I want to do nothing more than give her the time she needs with her friends before the big move.

Onto picking up our youngest daughter; the one who does not show visible emotion very often.  I pull into the pick-up lane and see her and two friends sitting on the ground together.  She see us and stands up.  Her two friends stand up and all three hug each other; all I see is three sad faces on girls who are growing up too fast.  They hug for what seems to be minutes, while my daughter looks at me with that all too familiar uncomfortable “I am the center of attention” look on her face.  At the same time, she is fighting tears…and I can’t.  I realize what is going on, I realize we are taking her away from two friends she loves dearly, I realize this is the cost of following Christ at times. That may sound trivial, but to an 8-year-old, there is nothing trivial about this situation.

There is always a price to be had when you do your best to follow the path God has for you.  Is there blessings along the way, yes?  Is there pain and discomfort along the way, more than you will realize in the excitement of a new adventure?  God, pour out your grace, wisdom, and understanding on our girls; show them your path is good and just, and that you are always with us when we follow you.  Just as you were with and blessed Joseph after he was sold to the Ishmaelite’s and eventually to Pharaoh; bless and walk with our girls on this journey.

Is it worth the cost, YES?  Jesus freely offers water of life to those who thirst.  We must understand when we take Him up on His free offer, we are no longer our own. We have been bought with a price.  There is no such thing as superficially following Christ, to only turn back when things get difficult…it is a life of surrender and trust…

Love, Blessings, and all your prayers are accepted:)

Scott