Zechariah, father of John the Baptist, echoing Psalm 23, uttered a prophetic word about the Messianic calling: “to guide our feet into the path of peace” (Luke 1: 79 NIV). Divine guidance may mean replacing an old path with a new one. Consider how this applies to discernment. We often, and rightly, view discernment as a call to intervene with Spirit-guided words or deeds in lives or situations of other folks. But it also means knowing when to move away in order not to impede God’s work. Organizationally, we “stand aside” from an approved judgment. Personally, we give another person space from our influence.
“To do no harm” is a basic maxim for ministers as well as for physicians. Sometimes we just have to get out of God’s way, heeding the Voice that whispers (or shouts) “your efforts hinder Kingdom growth!” God, not self, is sovereign.
Lord, help me subordinate my thoughts and my actions to Divine mystery. Don’t let my efforts get in your way. In this Advent season, musing about a star-filled night long ago, Lord, may I discern your lifting power–from Bethlehem Babe to Lord of the universe.
God’s Lifting PowerI wonder on what star-filled nightPeace and Joy!Arthur
an oak tree’s sturdy trunk and roots
cracked and broke a concrete slab
of campus sidewalk where I walk.
I marvel at how patiently
the tree presses, lifting, lifting,
until, fearing folks might trip
upon the rising edge, someone
removes the jagged slab to lay
a new one several feet away.I wonder on what star-filled night
Kingdom strength will crack and break
my carelessly constructed path
through life. Before I trip and fall—
or others do—I ask God’s angel
to remove that broken piece
and lay a new path for my feet,
conformable to truth and love.
Penitently at this Advent hour
I would discern God’s lifting power!