At some point we have to decide that what we discern in the spiritual is as real as what we observe in the natural. What do I mean by this?
Part of discernment is acting upon it. The difficulty lies in the things we discern may not line up with our natural reality. This is where faith comes in.
The question becomes: can I trust that which God is showing me in the spiritual? It is one thing to discern it, feel it, see it, or hear it. It is another thing to act on it. This means putting trust in God and the things I feel like He is communicating to me as I am discerning the situation.
Discernment becomes particularly difficult when we are sensing things but not clearly hearing or seeing them. It is one thing when God speaks to us clearly on a matter. Then we have to decide to obey or not to obey. It is another thing when we have a “nebulous” feeling about something. I say “nebulous” because it seems a like we have our head in the clouds. It is not easily definable like an image or a word. It is a sense that we are supposed to do something in a particular situation without a clear word or image.
I remember one time that I felt the Lord giving me “clues” about a person I was supposed to invite on a mission trip with me to Ethiopia. The clues were rather general like male gender and an age. That could fit any number of people in our congregation. As I pulled up the people in the database that fit that criteria, I just went over the names until I settled on one that I felt like the Lord was indicating to me. Most of us going on the trip were pastors and church leaders, but the person the Lord highlighted to me through this process did not seem to fit that criteria. I went ahead and approached the person. Much to my surprise he responded by saying, “I had just been saying to the Lord, ‘If this burden for missions is from you, please confirm it. Otherwise, just take it away!’” Needless to say, he went on the trip and had a life-changing experience.
I would say this example is relatively benign in the sense that there was not that much at stake. He could have turned me down and I would have continued looking for someone else.
But there are those times in life when we put everything on the line on a “hunch,” a sensation or an impression. One time in my life I knew the Lord was going to touch me and heal me even though the person I was asking the healing to come through had no grid for what I was expecting God to do. It didn’t look like it was going to happen until at the last second God showed up in an incredible way. I call it being hit with “the lightning of God” – it was like 10,000 volts went through my body and I lived to tell about it.
By Ralph Veenstra