“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Jesus Christ…” Philippians 1:9-10
The cake was piled high with frosting. Co-workers gathered ’round, plastic forks quivering in anticipation. I was happy to grab a slice of the cake, too, once the candles were extinguished. After chatting a bit with my colleagues, I scuttled away, thrilled to dig blissfully into the sweet confection. What an otherwise bright spot in the workday: birthday cake. I slid a moist bite onto my fork and into my mouth.
The cake wasn’t very good.
Sure, it was cake. But it wasn’t very tasty or memorable cake. It was just sort of ho-hum grocery store cake. There was no artistry or real flavor to it. After two bites, I realized the cake brought no pleasure. Feeling a little guilty, I brushed the remaining piece into the trash can. I wasn’t going to waste calories on such a blah dessert.
As I contemplate discernment (to discover; to recognize; the ability to discover or recognize) tonight, I think about God’s best. His best is for us to be filled with the Holy Spirit and to discern what is right or wrong. I also think about the multiple times I shoved a decision into my mouth that wasn’t God’s best. It wasn’t his highest or even second-best. It was a plan or a scheme I hatched myself. Perhaps I tossed off a hurried prayer to cover myself, but in the end, it was just me. My plan. And like that cake, it wasn’t very tasty or even very good.
But God, being God, can take even our most blah plans and still show up. Wouldn’t it be wonderful though to get the best cake first—without having to muddle through the junk? I am striving for more discernment and a heart that remembers the source of that discernment: spending time with God in prayer and reading the Word.
It seems like discernment is a muscle that can be exercised and strengthened. Paul called it increasing in “depth of insight.” When you first start praying for insight, you see a little. Then, as your faith walk moves deeper and deeper with Christ, you begin to tap into a world you didn’t even know. I am currently asking for discernment about God’s calling on my writing. I used to dream of literary awards, saucy berets and glowing book reviews. And then as my walk matured, I began to substitute my literary rock star dreams for God’s plans. I found myself asking not for what I used to pray for, but for his plans to become my plans. His heart to overtake mine.
Discernment is one more amazing trick in God’s toolbox. And he doesn’t keep it from us—it’s there for the taking. But there’s a catch: you have to spend time with Jesus to get it. It’s an intimate relationship. All the cards are on the table. You may feel naked. You may twist and turn because, “Well, you see. I have these plans…” But from one woman learning discernment to another, I can promise the struggle is worth it. So worth it. Trust me. Discernment is the icing on the best cake in the world.