How do we find our way through life? How do we find the right balance in life? How can we bring God’s kingdom to the present—to this moment, to now? How do we recognize God calling us in new ways every day, and balance our long-term commitments? These are such tall orders, but we face them every day of our lives.
Discernment is the tool we use … like the tools that help us weed our gardens, clean our homes, and cook our meals. Discernment is that great listening in the quiet, which helps us achieve God’s goals, and pushes out the needs of our egos. Discernment is the challenge that I face every day.
I used to cook professionally for a living. I’ve been using a cooking analogy lately that has been helping me discern the current path in my ministry. Have you ever seen stock prepared and cooked? Stock is the basis for all great sauces in the kitchen—one of the mother sauces. Preparing stock, especially beef stock or demi-glace, is a long process that cannot be rushed. It is a tireless effort of roasting, de-glazing, boiling, skimming, and waiting. Each piece of the process is as important to the finished product as the next. Each step must be given its time. Each step must be honored. In the boiling step, the pot must remain undisturbed so things can settle to the bottom and the other elements must rise to the top and be skimmed off. The grease must be removed. In the end, if the process has been honored, you have a beautiful, flavorful, and clear stock—the base for most sauces or soups you can make. It is the foundation. It takes time, energy, and patience.
So it goes with discernment. When we discern our path each day, each week, each month, and each year. We must listen carefully and let stuff settle to the bottom, and let the stuff that rises to the top be lifted out. It’s the stuff we don’t need anymore—the stuff that was important at one part of our journey, but now its job is done. When we listen, wait, and discern, we can sometimes come to clarity. Other times, the pot gets bumped or stirred, and we have to begin the process again.
It is our job to model the process of discernment to our children, families, friends, and all of those around us. How do we cook our stock? Do we rush through and get a second rate taste and clarity? Or, do we take the time to really listen to God, to sort out the stuff that needs to go, and keep the stuff that need to remain to maintain integrity of the stock? This is our foundation.