Search Me, O God
O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my thoughts.
See if there is any hurtful way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
What a good word, so full of promise. Discernment leads us to new things, deeper things, good things. Discernment is a little bit like maturity, though; it doesn’t happen overnight. A certain mix of perspective, time, insight, openness, curiosity, and intentionality allows someone to grow into a discerning person.
Why do we need to be discerning when we are trying to live into our passions? Because discernment helps us recognize our passions. And discernment gives us a holy imagination for what faithfully fulfilling our passions looks like.
As we come to know our passions, discernment is our path to recognizing the form that they are meant to take in the world, in a particular season.
Also, as we come to recognize our passions and the healing that we need for the wounds that generated them, discernment is our path to knowing how to attune to God’s love in the healing of our wounds, so that our passions are rooted in love instead of fear or pain.
“Discernment opens us up to listen to and recognize the voice and patterns of God’s direction in our lives.”
- Adele Calhoun, Spiritual Disciplines Handbook
We need practices of discernment as we live into our passions. One of the most reliable Christian practices to grow in discernment is the Ignatian Prayer of Examen. Over time, this practice allows the Holy Spirit to point out the movements of our own heart and of God’s work in our lives so that we can discern the next things.
We prayed the Prayer of Examen a few months ago, when we talked about purpose. We are going to share it again today and invite you to move through this set of reflections regularly for the next week and see what the Holy Spirit reveals.
As you engage the practice, we pray that the words of Psalm 139 above will come to life as you experience the searching, knowing, revealing, loving leading of the Holy Spirit in your thoughts and hearts, which are the incubators of great acts of passion in a world that so desperately needs love to be brave in its direction.
For Reflection: Here are a few steps to walk through the Ignatian Prayer of Examen. Set aside 10 minutes to go slowly through these reflective prompts, exploring your own passion and God’s love for you.
1. Invite God into your space and ask the Holy Spirit to lead your time of prayer. Become aware of your own presence by noticing your feet on the floor, your breath in your lungs, and the sounds and sights around you.
2. Offer God thanks for a few things for which you’re particularly grateful today.
3. Review your last 24 hours and look for moments of “consolation.” Where did you sense God connecting something you feel deeply about with something the world needed at the time…even something that seemed quite small? Where did you notice God’s love, God’s passion, for you…was it in nature, in a relationship, in Scripture? Reflect on these moments of connection with your own passion and with God’s passion.
4. Now, review your last 24 hours and look for moments of “desolation.” Where did you feel thwarted in your passion to make something happen in the world? What thwarted you? Did you feel lost or disconnected from God’s healing presence at any point over the last 24 hours? Reflect on these moments of disconnection from your passion and from God’s passion.
5. Finally, consider what the next day holds. Where will you need God’s insight or care or direction as you live out the particular passion that you have? Where might you need a special awareness of God’s love and care, God’s passion, for you in the coming hours? Ask God for what you need.
6. If you’d like, finish by sitting with the verses from Psalm 139, above.
The Kaleid Team
P.S. You can still join us for The StrengthsFinder Workshop this Saturday, 4/15 at Columbia Seminary! Register today! Also, sign up for the Kaleid Easter Retreat, which will be on Monday, May 1 at the Ignatius House!