In the story, “The Horse and His Boy” from the Chronicles of Narnia series by C. S. Lewis, the boy Shasta is overwhelmed by the Lion who deeply injures his companion, Aravis. Later the Lion comes to him and he is perplexed and afraid. He does not yet know that this is Aslan — who for readers is a symbol of Jesus Christ.
Shasta asks the Lion, “Then it was you who wounded Aravis?” The Lion said it was, and the boy asks, “What for?” The Lion replies, “Child, I am telling you your story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own.”
Jesus is like that. He does not tell others about my issues like a gossip might do. He also can be trusted with the secrets of my heart and will never blab them to someone else.
That said, He does give the gift of discernment to some people. With it, discerners just know what is happening in some cases where God wants them involved to help, encourage, or exhort. But there is one huge problem with the gift of discernment; misuse. Chambers calls it “being an amateur providence” because those who have this gift can attempt to interfere with God’s plans for other people.
For instance, if someone is sick, I might assume they should not suffer, forgetting that God uses sickness. Sometimes it is a way to glorify Him in the healing, but sometimes it is chastening for sin, or His way of drawing people closer, or even His way of taking them home. How I talk to sick people requires a great deal of sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. Otherwise when He talks to me, God will keep quiet about details in the lives of others.
Peter was the first to learn this lesson, and was likely the model for this part of Lewis’ story. He was with Jesus after His resurrection . . .
Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” (John 21:20–22)
For me, this is a vital lesson. I know to pray or even encourage a Christian is not growing spiritually, but even then I must seek God’s face for discernment in the way to do it. If any person suffers in any manner, I cannot assume that their suffering should be removed because I know from my own experience that God can use suffering in powerful ways. But I must not assume they are sick because of sin in their lives. The Lord wants my full dedication; sometimes I need suffering to bring me to that. There are other reasons for it also, so I cannot pray to remove or prevent it without God’s direction.
As Chambers says, my relationship with God determines whether or not His discernment will be shared with me to use in someone’s life. I need to be continually devoted to Him, listening always for His guidance.
Chambers adds an even greater challenge. He says that being consciously devoted to God is immature, adding that genuine maturity means being so abandoned to God that the consciousness of being used never enters my mind. That is, any consciousness of myself and what God is doing through me is just not there because I am only conscious of being utterly dependent on God.
I’m not there yet.