My devotional this morning was about how to discern that you're being led to do something by God and not your own mind.
This is a concept I have always wrestled. With all of the decisions I make in a day, all the diverging, swerving paths there are to take in this world, how do I know where God wants me to go?
Common sense dictates that, obviously, God would never lead me to do something harmful or hateful or degrading to myself or to others - something that, as the devotional calls it, is inherently wrong. I guess this seems obvious to some, but many "Christians" out there do God-awful things in his name.
And that must really piss him off.
Do they honestly believe that God led them to create and picket disgusting and contemptible signs at a soldier's funeral or an abortion clinic or a gay pride rally, for example? When people are at their lowest and/or most vulnerable, they're going to spew hate at them "in God's name"? When Jesus was on earth he walked beside us, dressed like us, suffered with us, talked to us, forgave us, loved us - prostitute and martyr alike. What kind of Christianity are these people following? I can only conclude that they are grossly misled and confused as to what our faith means.
Actual Christianity follows Christ and his teachings, which are above all else to love God and to love each other.
Bam! Jesus dropped the mic on that one.
But beyond what I consider to be rational common sense, how do I distinguish what comes from me from what comes from God?
The devotional said that "the voice of God will always validate your being, affirm your belonging, and remind you of your origins." It also requires a quiet spirit and an awareness of the now.
My old pastor, Derik, added once in a sermon that the best way of discerning God's path from our own is, when an idea surfaces in our mind, to talk to God about it and to talk to trusted friends about it. Soon you'll feel the answer.
It has been a struggle for me to put this into practice throughout my life. Giving up control, praying about something and handing it over to God is a tall order!
Sometimes it comes easy, like with marrying Rich and joining the church band and moving to our current home. These big decisions were most definitely God-led. That's not to say they weren't hard decisions (except marrying Rich - that was the easiest big decision I have ever made). But God's presence was undeniable in each circumstance and his nudges were clearly felt and heeded.
Sometimes God nudges blindside us like a divine tackle. Rich and I were not planning on having kids. We thank God now that he knew better than us and that, when we weren't listening to his whispers and nudges, he pushed us in the right direction, like a good parent should. It was certainly an adjustment for us, but from the depths of my soul I know that our lives and the world at large are better places because our two God-pushed stinkers are in it.
Sometimes I know what the right decision is and I can feel God's whisper, but I fight it. I remember times when I have felt the wrongness of a situation in my gut, but I haven't listened. I have hurt people I love, hurt myself, and acted like an ass. I could blame it on the human condition, that after so many denials of earthly things I was bound to slip up, but that's bullshit. I was just selfish and stupid and I own that. And I will no doubt do more selfish and stupid things as the years tick by.
That's the path toward Jesus living.
That's the path I want to travel with my family.
That's the path that, at the end of my time here, I'll hopefully have made wide enough that my kids can see it and be able to hear God's whisper to follow.