Learning to discern!

After 30 years in professional practice when I was about 55 years of age, I had started to think that I would die in the saddle. Mind you, I had absorbed the notion that retirement would take place at 55. Freedom 55 was the mantra booted about by my contemporaries. When I passed the 35 year mark I began to fear that freedom 55 was when my children reached the age of 55. God however has a sense of humour and knowing that I am not a patient man He kept me plodding along until He was good and ready to allow me to change horses. Not to retire mind you but to change horses. In 2014 after 40 years in professional practice God finally indicated to us that it was now time to move on. He arranged for the sale of my practice and allowed us to dismount but He hasn’t yet specifically instructed us as to how we are to serve going forward. We know the instructions will come. We just don’t know when.

Discernment for me has always been difficult. That it is so is likely because I tend to want to be in control. Helen is more content to just wait. I know that there is a reason why things have not yet come together in terms of the specific path that my wife and I are to take going forward. I have also learned to try to be patient with God. I now know that His plans for us are perfect. We need therefore to await His direction and try to discern the path itself.

Terri Wingham - photo-43The process of discerning within the framework of God’s will for each of us is something that doesn’t come easily for most of us. It does require insight and good judgment. Spiritual Discernment involves calling on the Holy Spirit to lead us or to give direction. There are many books written on the process and doing some reading in the area of discernment is a good place to start.

Foundational to discerning how to proceed in a matter is to learn to listen. We need to listen to our own needs and passions and to the needs of others. We need to listen to what others have to offer on the subject. Most importantly we need to learn to listen to the direction and guidance of the Holy Spirit. A good prayer life is the requisite starting point. If our heart is open to God’s plans for us because we want to do God’s will and we have developed the habit of communicating with God through scripture and/or through prayer generally then slowly God’s plan will materialize into our consciousness. It likely won’t happen all at once [although it may] but incrementally. Patience is therefore essential in evaluating the gates that open to us. Not only do we need to perceive the gate but just as importantly we need to evaluate which gate to walk through.

As Helen and I consider our new life on the heels of our transition out of the “Practice” we have considered our past ministerial experience in the Alpha program and in evangelization generally. We feel God gently moving us forward to proclaim the name of Jesus. How that will materialize and what that will look like is not yet evident but this website, we believe, will be an important first tool as we reach out to family, friends, and new friends.

As each of you discern for yourselves how God wants to use you in the mission field, may you discover the wonder and the joy of a personal relationship with your Savior. Nothing aids good discernment more than good communication with the source of your hope who can be relied upon to send you off in the right direction.

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