How do you know when the inspiration and excitement that you feel about the possibility of doing something new (spiritual practices, prayers, pilgrimages, retreats, volunteer work, or ministry) is truly inspiration. Real inspiration. Inspiration of the Holy Spirit variety. This is one of the things that I wrestle with quite often. I feel inspired, motivated, and ready to incorporate something new into ________ (insert various object here). But then not long after, that fire burning within seems to be non-existent or at least squelched to a great degree. I start to wonder about my inspiration and then doubt it altogether! I have yet to find a tried and true method for discerning accurately what God is calling me to do and what is simply my own curiosity or interest getting the better of me.
The one (and only one) thing that I have found to work in most instances is to sit on my inspiration for a few days. Maybe even a few weeks. And yes, there’s been a time or two when I’ve sat on it for months! This gives me time to get through the ‘honeymoon’ phase of the idea. It also allows time for some prayer on the topic, perhaps a conversation or six with someone I trust, as well as research. RESEARCH! You know — the thing we do in order to be prepared, to know what we are really getting into and what will be required of us. This is not to say that I use my research to dump hard projects and skate through with those inspirations that seem easy; rather it’s time that I use wisely to imagine the scenario (commitment) in action, being carried out, and really consider if I have the time, the energy, the ability, the skill-set, or whatever else might be required in order to follow through. I have found that if the inspiration feeling wanes after 24 hours, it definitely wasn’t inspiration at all. Additionally, if after time pondering I have doubts, it might be a good idea to shelve the inspiration a bit longer until you can reason out your hesitation.
Right now I feel inspired. It’s an inspiration that has popped up a few times over the last handful of months but I have shelved it, repeatedly, after the initial inspiration day because of concern over having the time to pull it off. Now that I’m a bit better situated in my routine and I know what are the expectations (at least the majority of them) of my job position — it’s time to un-shelve this little inspiration and give it some deeper thought. I am convinced that a false inspiration doesn’t continue to pop up in your thoughts over a long period of time. They just fade away. The ones that linger — those are the ones we should eye carefully just in case God is pointing in a direction that we hadn’t considered before.
For the record: I am in the midst of discerning 2 very important inspirations; one that’s been on my mind over the last 3 years, and one the last 3 months. Say a prayer — they are both inspirations not to be taken lightly.
And P.S. This idea of how to approach your inspiration also works well with controlling your online shopping urge!! Put that sudden shopping inspiration in your cart then walk away for a day! See if you still want it. Hesitant? Walk away again. Trust me on this one! ;P