A mishap with my cell phone recently set me thinking more deeply about spiritual discernment and how it can help us to examine the thoughts and suggestions that come to us – are they true or false – and where are they leading us?
When I began having trouble with my phone, I searched the internet to find the tech support contact number for my phone provider and called. The guy sounded just like the usual cheery tech support person, and asked exactly the same questions. He told me he was checking my phone out. Then he asked me to hold while he talked to his supervisor. He came back and told me that my phone and my entire home system had been hacked and was compromised. For a minute or two I was quite alarmed. He said that my phone provider worked with a security software company that could help me. It would cost hundreds of dollars to pay this company to fix my system.
That’s when my moment of discernment hit. I knew it was a lie. It sounded like my provider’s tech support, but it was not. Having turned to this company for help before, I knew they would never tell me that I needed to pay a third party for these things. It was a scam. I hung up. When I finally reached my real phone tech support team, they expertly fixed the problem in less than 5 minutes – at no cost. Then we talked about this very sophisticated scam. Remember, in this case, I had assumed the number I got from my internet search was accurate and called them, so in a sense my guard was down. I had been misled – for a few moments.
On any given day, many of us receive a scam call or email that tells us something frightening. Most of us have learned to discern these scams and hang up or press delete. But in what other areas of our lives do we let our guard down and fail to ask good spiritual questions like: “Am I being careful to discern where these frightening messages are coming from and whether they can be trusted? What do I know is actually true because of my past experience?
I’m very used to turning to and feeling God’s presence and guidance on a daily basis. And I’ve learned that that presence is always good, always love. It never contains an element of fear, but rather brings reassurance and comfort no matter what the problem is.
Rather than being lulled into accepting a scary story about our health, the economy or weather, what if we really stood back from the tendency to react and gave ourselves a moment to think? That moment can also give us time to turn quietly to God and experience the calmness that allows us to discern what we will or will not allow to influence our thinking.
That moment of discernment can make a world of difference in our lives and our health.
I love these words of the prophet Jeremiah:
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end..”
In some translations, the ending of this phrase is translated as: “… to give you a future and a hope.”
This passage was really helpful when on a long plane flight home I suddenly experienced nausea and dizziness. Being in a metal capsule thousands of feet up in the air, I felt quite frightened and alone. But the above verse pierced the fear like a ray of light. It came to me: “Yes, I know God’s plans and thoughts – these are the right thoughts – and I am listening, Father, and there will be the good, expected end to this flight.” You could say that like in my cell phone story, I dialled into the right number and received the reassurance needed. By the time the plane landed I felt much better and able to walk out of the cabin unaided. By the time I got on my connecting flight, I was totally free.
Learning discernment is powerful. It enables us to separate truth from a lie and to determine the source and validity of thoughts that come to us. It is a key point in how we proceed with the challenges in life. Rather than taking in fear and anxiety and then turning to a fraudster who cannot help, we can always cut the message, redial and listen to God’s thoughts and experience His “expected end” for our wholly good health and well being.
This article was published in the Times Colonist on August 16 2017 2017 HERE