We usually talk about discernment as the activity that precedes a journey. We discern which direction God wants us to go, then we take off in that direction fully focused on what God has called us to do. There is something good in the determination we show, but there is more to discernment than this. Anyone who has been on a roadtrip can attest that it is much better to consult the map several times along your journey than to study the route only once before loading up the car.
The best way to affirm that you truly discerned God’s will, is to practice constant discernment. Just like a roadmap, if you are on the right track then your journey will be confirmed. If you are not on the right track, you will have to re-orient yourself.
What I percieve as my calling to youth ministry was an emotional experience when I was 20 years old. I stood around Lake Susan at Montreat Youth Conference, participating in the candlelight service. Over the PA system a voice said, “All rising freshmen, extinguish your candles.” Many of the lights disappeared in the darkness. Then the rising sophomores, juniors, seniors and adults were instructed to do the same. Finally only the recently graduated seniors’ candles were lit. As I sat on a hill overlooking this exercise, I heard a voice say to me, “Their lights are going out. Who will help keep them lit?”
I thought to myself, “I will! I’ll help them keep their lights shining!” I percieved this as a calling to Youth Ministry and I have done little to look back ever since. Today I’m reminded to practice constant discernment. Am I still following the map I’ve been given, or have I set my own direction and hoped God would bless me along the way?