Discernment: A Simple "How To" Guide
When Christians need to make decisions, they often have a hard time understanding what is going on inside of them, leading to greater uncertainty.
For example, some struggle with Visible Signs they are ‘seeing’ (circumstantial evidence for/against their decision). Others don’t know how to read their Instincts or Intuition. Still others don’t know how to read the internal Cautions generated within their emotions or spirit. These cautions often come to us in the versions of “fear,” “dread,” or “uncertainty.”
I hope this helps.
DISCERNING WHAT TO DO
Let’s say you need to make a decision (X). You are unsure what to do. First, let’s take up this matter of Visible Signs, which can be confusing…
1. REGARDING VISIBLE SIGNS. The bad news is that when we get down the spiritual road toward maturity, we are given fewer and fewer visible signs about what to do. Meaning, outward, clear, visible signs are harder and harder to come by. That’s because God knows that we know His voice already and those signs are simply unnecessary at this point in our spiritual development and, ironically, also less reliable than Him speaking to us quietly within our spirits.
So don’t let the silence frustrate you– it’s an indicator that you don’t need outward signs anymore. John 10:27.
2. REGARDING INSTINCTS or INTUITION. Let’s assume that you are seeking God’s Will and walking in His Spirit (though this is a big assumption, we have to start somewhere). If you have gotten this far down the road toward your decision, and if you have been led here without clear internal warnings that you were going the wrong way and planning on doing the wrong thing– then you absolutely MUST trust your instincts now more than ever.
Here’s what I mean: Sometimes Christians pray and then feel led to do something– and this something is (let’s assume, unless you realize it’s not) from a healthy and holy motive. So they move forward and God apparently blesses the idea and things begin to unfold toward the realization of that dream and vision. But somewhere along the way, things hit a rough spot (and what you thought was crystal clear is now cloudy). It’s at this time that many Christians begin to question their entire discernment apparatus and their ability to hear God’s voice and to know His Will.
Point: God WANTS you to know His Will– more than even YOU want to know it! God wants you to know His voice. And the general demeanor of the Spirit-filled and obedient believer is “GO.” Believers should be seeking to conquer more ground for the Kingdom and Glory of God. So, you should actively seek to advance your life and opportunities for good and the like UNLESS AND UNTIL the Holy Spirit cautions you or stops you.
At a time like this, when you’re ‘that close’ to pulling the trigger and making a big decision, that’s not the time to second-guess your entire discernment apparatus. If you have faithfully prayed and sought the Lord “the best you knew how” and in that faithful pursuit of this dream, you did not have clear and obvious cautions– then you move forward in the way you were going, with CONFIDENCE.
3. DISCERNING CAUTIONS. That leads me to my final test of discernment (not that there’s not a lot more that could be said, but I’m gonna simplify it): YOU NEED TO IDENTIFY *EXACTLY* WHAT EMOTIONS YOU ARE FEELING BEFORE YOU MOVE FORWARD. DO YOU HAVE A SENSE OF “FEAR” ABOUT THIS, OR A SENSE OF “DREAD,” OR A SENSE OF “UNCERTAINTY?”
HERE’S HOW YOU WORK THROUGH THOSE.
A) FEAR: Fear isn’t of God. So when you feel ‘fear,’ that should not keep you from acting. So you musn’t let fear imprison you. Anytime I feel like moving forward in a decision but ‘fear’ exists, I put the pedal to the metal. I speed up; I don’t slow down. Then I brace for impact, because Satan may throw some stuff at me to make me question my decision.
B) DREAD (or ‘foreboding’): If you sense “dread” or a sense of foreboding– a deep, unshakeable and heavy, threatening sense of weighty, immobilizing dread… THAT “is” the Holy Spirit. In such a case, He is bearing witness in your spirit against a decision or action. When I sense this emotion, it’s clearly a divine warning.
But dread and fear or insecurity are different things. Dread ‘feels’ heavier and is unmistakably different than fear. Dread is always a “no go” for me.
C) UNCERTAINTY: Uncertainty can go one of two ways, and here’s how I approach it. (1) If the uncertainty was from the beginning, and if the uncertainty had been gnawing at me “all along” and it was something I couldn’t shake, in spite of ignoring it– and if I simply had (read this closely) a constant, unremitting sense of uncertainty… that generally means “WAIT.”
You then say, wait until ‘when?’ Answer: Wait until the uncertainty leaves or don’t do it. Uncertainty (when it manifests this way) is often an indicator of a lack of faith. So, when you have it– it doesn’t mean it’s not God’s Will… it just means that you lack the degree of faith to see it through, so whether it’s right or wrong is immaterial… because when the heat is on, you’ll fold… so don’t do it if that ‘all along’ type of uncertainty was there.
(2) If the uncertainty is a recent artifact that, hereforeto, did not trouble you– then you’re probably simply at a crisis of faith, and that’s more of an internal psychological matter of exercising faithful action than it is anything else. In other words, the uncertainty is just unexercised faith. Once you make the decision, you should then have a sense of increasing peace and internal witness that you did the right thing– whether or not the outward circumstances worked for you or not.
The only exception to this is, if after you make an initial decision, if you had a profound and absolutely unmitigating weight on your chest (when you SHOULD BE gaining freedom and liberty and excitement), then in that case, you misread your uncertainty. All other times, the uncertainty will evaporate after the decision is made, and you’ll begin to have joy and excitement about what God is getting ready to do.
One last thing– and it’s one of the most important.
Once all the facts above are considered, if you decide not to do it– there’s nothing lost (but nothing gained)… life goes on as it has. But IF YOU MOVE FORWARD, the best and only advice I’d give you concerning God’s Will is:
(IF YOU DECIDE TO DO IT) **Make a decision, then MAKE IT WORK.
After the decision is made (much like a marital decision), you don’t look back, you don’t second-guess… you simply ASSUME it was/is God’s perfect Will, then you FORCE IT to work.
I hope this is encouraging to you. It’s worked for me consistently.