Discernment: Power in the Pause

“I just have a pause in my spirit.”

I can’t count how many times I have said these words—in reference to making a commitment, engaging in a relationship, receiving from a sermon, or even just discussing a specific topic.

And I’ll admit when I felt that pause, I got in the habit of just saying no, avoiding the person, ignoring the message, or shutting down the conversation. Then I would go about my merry way, patting myself on the back for being “discerning.” After all, Ephesians 5:10 exhorts us to, “discern what is pleasing to the Lord.”

But in the recent (humbling) year, I’ve learned that discernment is not just recognizing the pause; it’s learning what to do with the pause. It’s taking the time to ask Holy Spirit why the pause is there.

I have been right about several of my “pause assumptions” in the past, but I’ve been wrong about enough of them to acknowledge that discernment can be tricky and I’m not infallible.

If someone is sharing something that gives me a pause in my spirit, it might mean that what they are saying is wrong. Or, it might mean what they are saying is irritating an area of flesh that I’m walking in, and Holy Spirit wants me to pause and take notice. Or, it might mean they are rubbing against something I thought was a truth that is actually a lie needing to be uprooted. Truth is rarely comfortable, and sometimes my flesh can become so uncomfortable when hearing it that it can distract me from my spirit bearing witness.

I’ve also found that offense likes to dress itself up as discernment. So, I have to press in and learn the difference between the two so that I don’t give offense a righteous name that allows me to stay in it.

I don’t know if anyone else is out there floating in a similar boat or if I’m just late to the party, but I can tell you that this truth has challenged and wrecked me again and again over the past few months.

A pause in your spirit can be a good thing, but it’s meant to be just that. A pause. Not a hard stop, not a closed door, and not an escape hatch. Just a pause—that creates space to recalibrate your heart, renew your mind, and allow Holy Spirit to help with direction, interpretation, and application.

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” – Romans 12:2

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