We couldn’t gather in our physical locations last week but that didn’t stop the Church from gathering. We had multiple watch parties in people’s homes and had many people join us on Facebook Live to worship, take communion, and continue in our series on Discernment. (If you missed it, the video is linked below)
In the message this week we talked about those times in our lives where it seems like we have done everything we possibly could (prayed, sought wise counsel, waited, created a habit of indifference) to seek God’s will and we finally take a leap of faith but even still things don’t seem to work out how we thought. Ever had a moment like that? In those moments it’s easy to begin asking the questions, “Did I miss God’s will?” “Did I do something wrong?” “Can I still trust God” but as we talked about this week, in Philippians 2 Paul is writing to his friends who have had a similar experience. They have prayed, sought counsel and chosen to take a leap of faith and follow Jesus with their lives, but now they are facing persecution and Paul writes these words to encourage them,
“…Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”
In other words, regardless of the situation, you find yourself in, you can trust that God is still at work in your life to fulfill his good purposes. If this is true, then our questions can shift from, “Did I miss God’s will” to “Even in this struggle, where do I see God at work right now?”
A big aspect of discernment is coming to understand that God is always at work in our lives to fulfill his good purposes but also understanding there are other forces at work in our lives to pull us away from God’s will. The key in the Christian life is learning to tell the difference between the two. For more info on this – check out the linked message video below.
One of the ways we invited you to begin discerning between the two was through the spiritual discipline of “consolations and desolations”
When we talk about consolation and desolation we are talking about our life orientation – we are asking the question – where is my life currently leading? Where are my circumstances leading? Where is my decision making leading? Where are my emotions leading? Where is my mindset leading? Toward God? That’s consolation. Or away from God? That’s desolation.
Margaret Silf, in her book Inner Compass says consolations are things that:
- direct our focus outside and beyond ourselves
- lift our hearts so that we can see the joys and sorrows of other people
- bonds us more closely to our human community
- generates new inspiration and ideas
- restores balance and refreshes our inner vision
- shows us where God is active in our lives and where he is leading us
- releases new energy in us
Desolations are things that:
- turns us in on ourselves
- drives us down the spiral ever deeper into our own negative feelings
- cuts us off from community
- makes us want to give up on things that used to be important to us
- takes over our whole consciousness and crowds out our distant vision
- drains us of energy
When we create a habit of daily reviewing what is currently drawing us towards God and what is drawing us away from God we begin to be able to make decisions regardless of outcomes and circumstance that will continue to draw us closer to God’s will. We begin to see rhythms and habits in our lives, negative emotions and the role they play in our relationships. We can see the people who drain us and the relationships that need to be healed. We can see where God is at work.
So I wanna invite you to start today in the habit of consolation and desolation. But then I want to encourage you to get a journal and make this a daily/weekly habit. So when big decisions come up you can look back and you can see “where have I seen God at work? What has drawn me closer in the past? And how does that help me make the decision I need to make today?”