The other day I was speaking with someone and they said, “If only I could discover what God wants me to do with my life…” and it started a discussion between us on the difference between discovering and discernment. To discover something means to externally find something that wasn’t there before we concluded and has to do mostly with the externals in one’s life. Discernment, we concluded, had more to do with opening one’s heart to one’s senses and letting the world into one’s heart so that the heart could listen and dialogue with one’s surroundings and one’s soul.
I sort of liked the definition we developed in our discussion because to discern God’s will means to let my heart enter into a dialogue with my senses and with God in order to touch my heart in such a way that I am able to “hear” God speaking with me. It is the ability to listen with one’s soul, not just with one’s ears. It is a chance to be still and take in all of God’s creation with your senses and then respond, “Here I am, Lord, I come to do your Will”….discovering seemed to us an “uncovering” of the MY will in one’s life whereas discernment meant more the “letting in” of God’s will into one’s soul…..not my will, but your will be done, in imitation of Jesus’ words in the Garden of Gethsamene.
Discernment became for us a more in depth, soul searching listening to the whispers of the Spirit as the Spirit moves us in the direction of communion with God. It is the whisper that Isaiah had to listen to so intently in the cave and it is the willingness to let go of my formalized way of discovering and giving way to the gentle movement of my discerning heart. When I discover something, I rejoice like the woman in the Scriptures who found her lost coin, but when I discern I then think of what does God want me to do with the coin.
Discerning is always being open to “dialoguing with the Lord” in order to be like Samuel when, in the stillness of the night, he heard his “CALL”. We, you and I, have to listen for the CALL because when we hear and accept the CALL from the Lord, we will be filled a heart-peace and a heart-calmness for we will have found out what God wants us to do with our sometimes “lost” lives. We will rejoice in the receptivity of our hearts and respond with a soul commitment to enter into this God-dialogue.
Godspeed with your discovering your own journey of discernment…….remembering that there is always a companion walking with you.