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Monday, October 26, 2020
I Can (series)
Today is “I Can” blog number 30—the final episode. It’s been a good run; and over the past seven months, I have enjoyed recalling some of the memorable, hairy, and humorous events of my former police days. There’s a better-than-average probability my weekly writing installments will continue in the future, only with a different theme. For those of you who have enjoyed the street patrol action accounts (I sincerely appreciate all your support and positive feedback), let me relay one last war story.
On routine patrol in the south end of our precinct, our normal patrol area (scout 13-11A), I made eye contact with the driver of a car that was traveling in the opposite direction. Other than being in a known high drug-trafficking area, the driver didn’t do anything wrong. He wasn’t speeding or breaking any traffic laws, but I just had a hunch he was up to no good. I made a comment about it to my partner who was driving the scout car, and I asked him to turn around and follow the blue Mercury Grand Marquis. If you don’t remember, in the late 1970s the Grand Marquis was an extremely high-priced, premium-model, luxury sedan.
Once we were behind the vehicle, I entered the license plate into the patrol car computer, and the plates came back registered to a 1978 Mercury, which seemed like the right year. Even though I had a funny feeling about the driver, a nervous expression on someone’s face is not probable cause to stop the car and investigate. Some might argue we didn’t even have reasonable suspicion, so as much as I wanted to follow my gut feeling and check things out a little further, we didn’t have proper cause. My partner then made a right turn at the next intersection, and the vehicle in question continued to drive straight ahead.
As fate would have it, a little later on in the day, probably an hour or so after the first encounter, we passed the same Mercury in the same general area, just two streets over. This time around I was able to glance into the car as we drove by, and I noticed there was no key in the ignition—this was before keyless entry or keyless ignition. Now we had a reason to stop the vehicle. We motioned for the driver to pull over, and we asked him for his driver’s license and vehicle registration. He was unable to produce the proper paper work. I asked him about the broken ignition, and he said the car belonged to his uncle who had given him permission to drive it. He said he did not know how the ignition switch got damaged.
We retrieved the vehicle identification number from the car; and when we ran a check on the VIN, the vehicle came back stolen. Further investigation revealed the license plate on the car was registered to a Mercury, but not the Mercury we were investigating. We then placed both the driver and the passenger under arrest for PSMV (possession of a stolen motor vehicle). Come to find out, the passenger also had an outstanding felony warrant for violation of the controlled substance act. According to the narcotics unit, he was a notorious drug dealer.
I chose this particular incident to write about in this last police story episode to transition into the topic of spiritual discernment. Discernment is one of the nine gifts of the spirit outlined in 1 Corinthians, chapter 12. If you ask me, discernment is an extremely important spiritual gift—especially these days; and one we need to develop, exercise, and employ.
Discernment has several key elements. First of all, it provides us with the ability to decide between truth and error, right and wrong—this process has never been more complicated. It is nearly impossible to know what is true and what is false nowadays, because most of our dependable and conventional sources of information have decided to emphasize their own narratives rather than speak truthfully. Quite honestly, I can no longer with confidence turn on the news (any news station) and get an accurate, forthright, and unbiased assessment. Everyone seems to be peddling their own skewed and distorted version of truth. Secondly, discernment is the best way to obtain spiritual direction, wisdom, and understanding. The kind of wisdom and insight that goes well beyond what we can typically see, hear, or determine on our own. It’s the Spirit of the Lord that provides us with key discernment.
After Solomon became King, God appeared to him and said, “Ask for whatever you want Me to give you.” Man, would I love for God to say that to me, LOL.
Solomon responded to God; and, believe it or not, he didn’t ask for wealth, long life, power, or the death of his enemies (all very tempting). In 1 Kings 3:9, Solomon said, “Give me a discerning heart to… distinguish between right and wrong.” Solomon desperately needed discernment back then, and we need it even more today.
Let me give you five ways to develop spiritual discernment. These will all be quick little bank shots.
1. Acknowledge your need for Holy Spirit guidance.
Included in His final words with His disciples just hours before Jesus was arrested and then crucified, Jesus said, “When He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come. John 16:13.
2. Seek to know the heart of God.
God’s greatest desire for us is to be made in His image and likeness, to reject what God rejects and to embrace what God embraces. In 1 Corinthians 11:1 Paul said, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” Imitating God is how we become more like God; and the more we are like God, the better our spiritual discernment becomes.
3. Learn from past mistakes and miscues.
Sometimes our greatest lessons in life come from the mistakes we make. Don’t allow the devil to cripple you with guilt, remorse, and condemnation. Romans 8:1 declares, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…” Determine to own your mistakes, not repeat the same failures over and over again, and elevate your dependency on God.
4. Rely on mentors and leaders who can give you good counsel.
Seeking advice from people who have knowledge and experience can help us make sound judgments and choices, especially when we’re caught in the valley of indecision. Proverbs 11:14 says, “Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.”
5. As you devote yourself to God, learn to trust your instincts.
If we truly want to develop spiritual discernment, we can’t just read about it or think about it. We actually have to do it—pray for guidance and then take a step of faith. Don’t make rash or quick decisions, wait on God, and He will show you the way.
Philippians 1:9-10 (ESV)
And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,