Today has been a big day. There was this whole inauguration thing happening, there were meetings to go to, and there were many imaginary (online) friends to connect with. Ironically, I am pretty sure I lost some followers on twitter because I challenged some of their blanket statements, but that is for another post.
This post is about a question one of my imaginary friends (@abbykk) posed on twitter. “How do you know that you have “discerned” something?”…What a great question. We (at least I) always talk about the “discernment of the Spirit” but how do we know when that happens. Often times we think there has been “discernment” when the question is answered the way we want it to. We say that people have gone away from the Spirit when it goes the other way. (I could put a lot of links here to back up my point but I am sure you can insert your own here.)
For instance, I think that the election of Bruce Reyes-Chow as moderator of the PC (USA) was the Spirit moving, there are others that disagree with me. I think that the passing of the Peace, Unity, and Purity Report by the 217th General Assembly in Birmingham in 2006 was “discernment” of the Spirit’s moving, once again their are many who would disagree with me (i.e. The Presbyterian Lay Committee, The New Wineskins, The Presbyterian Coaliation, etc.)
I think, for me, answering the question, “how do you know if you have “discerned” something?” takes some time. I remember participating in a Bible study, on Jeremiah 28, in seminary with Frances Taylor Gench (a Bible study that the PUP Task Force used) about “testing the spirits” essentially it boils down to…only time will tell. If what you decide has a positive outcome, then you have “discerned” something. If you have peace about the decision, you have “discerned” something. If you have learned something from the decision that you made, you have “discerned” something.
I guess in the long run, you are “discerning” something everyday. You can learn and grow from your decisions and the consequences for those decisions and for me, that is “discernment.”
Today, I discerned that if one of your followers on twitter is ranting about too much religion in politics, unless I know them personally, I probably shouldn’t engage them and say things like, “one day I hope you feel included.” See…discernment!