discernment, obedience and wandering…

“A man must go through a long and great conflict in himself before
he can learn fully to overcome himself,
and to draw his whole affection towards God.
When a man stands upon himself he is easily drawn aside
after human comforts.
But a true lover of Christ, and a diligent pursuer of virtue,
does not hunt after comforts, nor seek such sensible sweetnesses,
but is rather willing to bear strong trials and hard labors for Christ.”

Thomas a’ Kempis, p. 64
An Excerpt From
Imitation of Christ


(a lone willet wanders in the surf / Rosemary Beach / Julie Cook /2021)

Long ago and far away in a lifetime other than this current one, I was
a young, rather naive
no, make that a stubborn and hard headed 20 something.

20 something seems to be the age in which we tend to make
some of our more major decisions…be that college majors,
career paths, relationship choices, moving, staying, coming
or going…the ground work of life seems to really get serious
when we are in our early 20’s.

I have always been one who has tried desperately to listen to that
still small voice found within.

It’s just that the majority of my life, that voice has been more or less,
inaudible.
As in I really need, want, prefer to be hit in the head as I can’t ever
hear that resounding yes or no.

It just seems that I have had to guess throughout so much of my life,
feeling my way blindly in the dark.

For me, I have always believed that that still small voice is
not my own. It is to be the voice of God…
or simply put, the urgings of the Holy Spirit.

This is where the notion of discernment enters into the picture.
We listen, hear and prayerfully discern…God’s will for our lives

So what exactly is discernment you ask?
Well Merriam Webster tells us that discernment is the quality of being able
to grasp and comprehend what is obscure

Grasping and comprehending the obscure.

I think one’s future can certainly be the stuff of the obscure.

And since I’m recalling a past tale concerning an obscure future…
let me continue with said tale.
.
So yes…many lifetimes ago as a young 20 something,
I made a major life decision…hoping I had discerned correctly God’s
desired choice for my life.

The problem, however, was that I had never heard God’s audible yay or nay.
I was rather going on some sort of rote autopilot…following that
which I thought I was supposed to do.

And so, once I had made such a decision, I was set.
There was no turning back.

Obedience or stubbornness—that is yet to be seen.
But when I commit, I tend to do so with both feet.
It’s all in or nothing.
No waffling here.
It’s for better or worse.
Wise or stupid.

And so it was, at this point of my life, I can remember that my godmother
had gotten wind of this particular major decision of mine.

My godmother was a very Godly woman.
Wise yet doggedly determined…as in, her feet were firmly planted
and there was no straying…because she had prayed, heard, discerned
and was now firmly set.

She just always seemed to have a direct line to God and was always lead
by that very resounding direct line.

So when I went to tell my godmother of this particular decision of mine
on this particular day in time, a debate most severe ensued.

She did not think my decision was made with prayerful discernment
but was more of a youthful whim.

A 3 hour roller coaster of back and forth filled the afternoon.

Eventually, I left mad and more determined than when I had arrived
and she, I know, was frustrated and equally defiant.

She had time on her side…a lifetime of experience.
I had only but the gut feeling of a young person still
finding her way.

So where is all of this going you ask.

Well, the other day, our dear friend Oneta, over on Sweet Aroma
(https://onetahayes.com), made mention of this same sort of notion.

She wrote of decision making.
Decisions made inside and outside of God’s will.

Oneta spoke of discernment vs having to wander in a desert.
Meaning that if decisions are made outside of God’s will,
there will be consequences…as in wandering in deserts.
Meaning that God will allow us to wander…
allowing us to go nowhere no time fast.

That is until…

So back to my little story.

At this particular time in my life, I had a good friend who
was about 12 years older than me.
She had watched me grow over the years, often lending a guiding hand or
word.
She too got wind of my decision…plus she got wind of the rift
between godmother and goddaughter.

Unbeknownst to me this wise friend of mine went to my
equally wise godmother.

She told my godmother, as she later told me, that whether or not
my decision was, at the time, within God’s will or not…was not
my friend’s worry because what she knew was that regardless,
God would eventually, in His perfect time,
work that decision of mine to be within His perfect will.

My wise godmother yielded to the wisdom of another…
adding more wisdom to the arsenal.

Now how all that works is beyond my mere mortal’s brain, but I am grateful
that is does work.

The lesson here…
an oft decision can indeed become God’s will because of God’s will.

Not to say there won’t be struggles, frustration, or suffering.
God, however, works all things to His good…

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,
who have been called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28

but wait…you want to know if I wandered or not right??

Well, I’m not certain.
If I’m like the Israelites, I might have two more years to figure that out.

But just know, there has been a lot of other wanderings I
been walking…

15 comments on “discernment, obedience and wandering…

  1. atimetoshare.me says:

    We all have our times of wandering. I think some more than others. Those deserts are designed to give us time to think about our decisions and hopefully make the right ones. God doesn’t tether us. He lets us go, but how cool is it that He always has a plan for our lives and His will is going to win whether we want it to or not. Great food for thought here.

  2. bcparkison says:

    Don’t we all! And having someone to lean on,rather we like what they feel or not.,makes a whole lot of difference.

  3. Reblogged this on Talmidimblogging and commented:
    And we didn’t need new sandals 😀 😀

  4. A man can look at a task and think three things: (1) “That looks hard, let’s got to it!”. or (2) “That looks hard, time for a nap”, or (3) “That looks hard. Let’s sucker someone else into doing it and then post on social media what ‘we’ accomplished.”

  5. oneta hayes says:

    I’m glad there is still hope in the wilderness, but avoiding the wandering there is best. That is a common ploy planted by the devil. He will say, “O sure, it is wise accept salvation, but that means you have to …..” So too many respond by deciding to wait a few years, until death is nearer. In that wait time, there is likely to be baggage added to one’s life that is a burden on the back for all the rest of life – disease, dependents, depression, addictions, financial woes. Very seldom does one get through years of wilderness without the sandals wearing out.

  6. […] The following comment I made to Julie on her article about people who have been/are wandering in the wilderness. https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2021/10/04/discernment-obedience-and-wandering/#comments […]

  7. Dawn Marie says:

    As par-usual your post hits at a timely-time for moi. I’ve been walking my own version of The Dark Night of the Soul. (Spanish mystic John of the Cross’ poem.) Coming out on the other side now and the daylight is breaking. Hugs to you Julie for always sharing your walk with us. Your words always seem to “meet-up with others,” along THE WAY!

    • I know that dark night well my friend— St Teresa of Avila and St John have each spoken deeply, and often, from their personal writings to my own weary soul—
      Seems to be a time of weaving both our light and dark together—
      Thank you Dawn Marie for adding to my journey— as we journey together

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