Teach Me Discernment (May 15, 2013)

…Opening To…

Words written fifty years ago, a hundred years ago, a thousand years ago, can have as much…power today as ever they had it then to come alive for us and in us and to make us more alive within ourselves. (Frederick Buechner)

…Listening In…

O Lord, you have dealt graciously with your servant, according to your word. Teach me discernment and knowledge, for I have believed in your commandments. (Psalm 119:65-66; context)

…Filling Up…

The second verse from the top of the guitar case comes from the longest psalm in the book. In fact, the verses quoted above are at the beginning of the second third of the psalm. There are over 100 verses after that! Anyway, I remember pasting these two verses to my guitar after I started the formal process of discernment for ordained ministry. This is probably why I was struck by the phrase “teach me discernment.”

Basically, the psalmist wants to learn how to learn. “Teach me discernment” could also read, “show me how to open my eyes so I can begin to see properly.” Or “show me how to work these legs of mine so I can start following your path.” When the psalmist asks God to teach discernment, the psalmist shows that he has discovered that he is at the very beginning of his journey, no matter that a third of the psalm is already through.

Even though I am now a priest (that is, I navigated the six year process from initial inquiry to ordination), I still need to ask God to teach me how to discern. Discernment happens when you cultivate an atmosphere of prayerful reflection. Within this atmosphere, the discerner asks God to be present in the act of noticing all the choices in front of him or her. In the end, discernment is all about seeing the whole field when you make a decision (sorry for that football metaphor; it sort of snuck in). Every quarterback (even Tom Brady and Peyton Manning) has a coach to help him see the field. And we do too. So my prayer is that we each ask God to teach us discernment.

…Praying For…

Dear God, you continue to teach me things every day of my life. Help me to be receptive to those lessons so that I can invite you into every decision I make and find a fuller life in you. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray. Amen.

…Sending Out…

I leave this moment with you, God, with your words on my lips and your joy in my heart, ready to share both with all I meet.

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