What Is Discernment? Do You Have It? | Read an Excerpt

in case you were wanderingIn Case You Were Wandering offers points of reference for young adults to find answers to questions. Using practical Christian principles, this book equips twentysomethings to discover purpose in their lives and to stay in pursuit of that purpose.

In Case You Were Wandering Excerpt

Have you ever been following a GPS device in your car and when it instructed you to make a turn, there was no road to turn onto? Have you had the device tell you to make a turn, after you’ve already exited the intersection? Or have you experienced a time when the map displayed on the GPS just didn’t match the area where you were? When the GPS is giving clear directions in a timely fashion, that match the terrain, it is really quite easy to continue on the route. All systems are “go.” But sometimes, the GPS just does not readily describe our situation.

Following a Chosen Path

As we make our way through life, doing our best to follow our chosen path, listening as best we can to our God-mapped values, there are times when those values do not easily hold us on course. Sometimes our situation does not fit neatly into our value map. Or perhaps our values cannot be heard as clearly because of all the life-noise around us. In times like these, being able to follow our values requires more attention and energy. We might have to slow down; we might even have to stop. We may need to look around some. Need to ask some questions of those nearby. Need to take our lives off of autopilot and discern our circumstance more carefully. We have to consider all aspects of our situation, discover what personal values apply to the situation, and make a judgment on how we will apply our values in order to move forward.

Some years ago I read a story about Pepperdine University student Brian Bushway. The article spoke of Brian’s mountain biking abilities, though he could not drive a car, nor recognize colors. At the age of fourteen, optic nerve atrophy left Brian completely blind. However, later he met Dan Kish, an expert in echolocation. Echolocation is a navigational technique used by people to perceive objects through the reflection of sound waves. Kish, himself blind since birth, taught Brian to click his tongue and listen to the sound reverberation created. Using the echoes, Brian is able to recognize everything from a piece of Plexiglas to a playing card. Today, Bushway and others trained by Kish are able to use echolocation to bicycle trails as well as dirt roads. The article quoted Bushway as saying, “This isn’t amazing or impossible.” I cannot imagine riding a bicycle blind. However, Brian can say it is not amazing because he has trained his sense of hearing to discern between various echoes. He has honed his ability to discern.

Discernment is the process of information gathering and assessment that prepares us for a decision. We use our senses, our minds, and any other reliable sources of information to determine our surroundings and circumstances. We look around, check the map, and search for landmarks. Discernment is an acquired skill that is perfected through practice. The Bible teaches that mature Christians should have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil (Hebrews 5:14).

Resources and Links

In Case You Were Wandering 

In Case You Were Wandering Small Group Kit