Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Discernment Is Never Easy

My 18-yo nephew came and spent much of the weekend at our place. This was the first time I'd met him.

At one point he asked me if we had any good books he could borrow for the train ride back up to Seattle. My first thought was Would you read a religious book? And my thoughts made their way, eventually, inevitably, to John Eldredge's book Waking the Dead, a book I want to recommend to just about everyone. In an attempt not to be pushy, I gave a sort of general description of our book collection - lots of sci fi, some religious books, some miscellaneous other things. He wandered over to the bookshelf; Waking the Dead caught his eye and he pulled it out and looked at it. He put it back, saying that he would have to read it eventually. I ended up pulling out one of my favorite sci-fi books to lend him.

Later on, I prayed about it, asking God if I should lend Waking the Dead to my nephew. (Why I was still worried about being pushy when it had already caught his eye, I don't know.) Then I looked for which decision brought me more peace. The sense that I got was 'no'. Part of me was not happy with that answer, but I figured it was just the childishly eager part of me that wants to leap before looking, the pushy part; better to trust God.

Then, at Mass on Sunday morning, the Ascension readings included the line, "May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened", a line that I very clearly remembered Eldredge talking about in his book. I had, in fact, been thinking about that line just that morning.

It was too much to be a coincidence. I resolved to lend my nephew the book.

I thought back to that feeling, that sense of 'no' that I had had about lending the book. And I found that I could believe that it was a false sense of peace, an imitation of true peace. The peace that I felt now was... not deeper exactly, but more overall. Less tinged with reservations, although, believe me, I wasn't going to be lacking in doubts, no matter what I chose. (Although I was reassured when my nephew decided to start reading it before the other books I lent him, and said the first 8 pages or so were awesome.)

This has happened before.

Repeatedly, I have found that whenever I start relying on any one kind of 'sense' about what God wants, it ends up steering me wrong. If I rely too much on opening the Bible to a random place; if I rely too much on a deep sense in my heart; if I rely too much on an overall feeling; if I rely too much on listening to others' suggestions.... eventually it will go wrong. Eventually, Satan will start imitating whatever thing I am relying on, to lead me astray. Instead, discernment seems to require a sort of never-ending vigilance and the willingness to admit I got it wrong.

1 comment:

  1. For what it is worth, I found this post a very good read while me and myself wouldn't mind also reading 'Waking the dead' if you know what I mean? :)