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How Joy Helps Us Discern God’s Will

The desires God puts in us bring us energy and life

Have you noticed what gives you life? What yeses and no's are life-thwarting and which are life-giving? Discernment requires attention to what gives us life. Where does the fruit of the Spirit show up in your day? When do you experience love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, kindness, and self-control? Where do you experience the opposite of these things?

The Examen poses some questions that help us notice the movements of God.

1. What was your high today? What was your low?

2. What was life-giving? What was life-thwarting?

3. Where did you have joy? When did the joy lose traction?

4. Where did you find the fruit of the Spirit?

5. How are you being invited to talk to God about what you noticed?

These questions are ways I listen to what God is saying in my life. They are ways I look beneath the surface of my tasks and transactions. These questions get at our motivations and the way we relate. If we pay attention to the answers to these questions, we begin to see patterns that reveal who we are and what things bring us joy.

Attending to the Word of God is another way I listen. As I read I look for where God is inviting me to pray, doubt, question, act, wait, or see things in a new way. What is the discussion God wants to have with me.

Fredrich Buechner writes in Wishful Thinking, "The place God calls you to is where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet." To find that place means paying attention.

As a child I never dreamed of becoming a pastor. I didn't know women could be pastors. But all along my life I have loved God's Word. People bring me joy. Nurturing and shepherding are what I'd do even if I were unemployed. Looking back, I see how God placed people and experiences in my life that directed me to where I am now: a co-senior pastor along with my husband, Doug. And it is rather a blast! It is the place where there is love, joy, peace, etc.

Do you want to know God's will? Start noticing where your deep gladness is. Look beneath that gladness to the deepest part of it you can. Do you think your deep gladness is children—and that you will never have any? Well, look deeper still. Can the gladness you get from children be unleashed in a way you haven't yet imagined? Why did God give it to you, anyway? Did you want to be an entrepreneur and end up in management? What is your desire to start things about? Is there some call to start something you haven't yet dreamed of?

April23, 2012 at 4:45 PM

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