Friday, January 23, 2009

Contemplating Discernment

Several texts this week focus on call, Jonah 3 and Mark 1:14-20 yet there is a deeper theme emerging as I look at Psalm 62 and the words,
For God alone my soul in silence waits.
That sentence is worth exploring. I remember sitting in silence with my first spiritual director after reading these verses, just sitting and listening. As a seminarian early in my studies I wondered about this experience of spiritual direction. I wondered what I would hear and for what I was listening. It took several weeks of exploration to learn to sit silently and center myself for the conversation. I took even longer to learn that it didn't matter what I shared or thought was important. My director was able to ask a key question no matter what was my topic. Where did you experience God in this?

The ability to discern God's presence, God's "will" and God's call takes time and silence. The skill called for is simply listening. The practices of journaling and prayer with scripture can help but there is no substitute for time spent with God. It is funny to be working on a sermon full of words to convey the importance of silence. I guess that's what preachers do at times, use our words to talk about that which is far beyond words.

We all need the ability to discern God, to see where God is moving in our midst and to hear where God would have us work. In this time of change with so many places of need, we can each find a spot to work, and a place where we can be used. When we discern this place we are freed from being overwhelmed by the need of the world because we have our place of call, one spot to pour in our talent and gifts to help God bring about change.

It all begins with discernment, that quiet time of listening.

"Trust in God at all times, O people; pour out your heart before God" (v. 8) then "Be silent and wait for alone for God." (v.5)

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