Discerning Church Learning to discern the movement of God's Spirit

Fortitude and Flexibility

As I reflect on the dynamic of discernment, I am living in the tension of process and free-flowing forms of interaction. We want to be intentional about moving forward. At the same time, we want to be open to the movement of the Holy Spirit. Are these dynamic incompatible? Can they co-exist?

While I struggle with how to make sense of this, it seems the key lies in submission. Following the Spirit is often an excuse for laziness or inaction. We sit back, fail to do what God is calling us do. All the while, we insist we are waiting on the Spirit. In the other extreme, we lay our plans and work the system; nothing will distract us from our goal. In truth, we are not submitting to God; we are submitting to our plans.

Reading from Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals this week, I was blown away by this quote from from Jesuit Jean-Pierre de Caussade (18th Century).

The great and firm foundation of the spiritual life is the offering of ourselves to God and being subject to his will in all things. We must completely forget ourselves, so that we regard ourselves as an object which has been sold and over which we no longer have any rights. We find all our joy in fulfilling God’s pleasure — his happiness, his glory and the fact that he is our great and only delight. Once we have this foundation, all we need to do is spend our lives rejoicing that God is God and being so wholly abandoned to his will that we are quite indifferent as to what we do and equally indifferent as to what use he makes of our activities. 1

Submission and pursuit at the same time. We are called to actively submit to God’s activity in our life. We will continue to live in this tension between fortitude and flexibility. I would be interested in how you understand this tension.

  1. Claiborne, Shane; Wilson-Hartgrove, Jonathan; Okoro, Enuma (2010-11-09). Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals (p. 134). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.