Most years, we have gift bags at our annual writer’s retreat. In the beginning, we took turns providing this, but that soon morphed into optional contributions to a common gift bag we provided for small items. Sometimes it is just candy, a fun pen, unique paper or notebooks, or a small frog-related item (our mascot – see this post for explanation). But this year was our 10th year of meeting and we wanted to be more intentional about our gifts to make it special, and it was.
For my gift, I wanted to provide individualized aprons for each person to use for their assigned night of cooking. My mom has an embroidery sewing machine we could use to get this accomplished (related post). We searched and found the perfect design. It featured a frog holding a pencil and sitting on 2 books, one labeled “reading” and the other “writing,” activities we all loved. I added the year to commemorate our 10th anniversary and for each apron, I chose a unique font for their name. With a few hiccups (learning curve for me), the aprons proceeded as planned, with the name being the last thing stitched. But, there was one apron that caused us fits…Linda’s.
The font I chose for her name didn’t work. Well, that is not quite right. The machine followed the pattern exactly. But something was wrong when you looked at the apron. My mom and I viewed it from a distance to see if our eyes were getting tired from too much close work. It still looked “off.” I checked the pattern to see if I had altered the design or spacing…I hadn’t. They spaced the aligned letters exactly the same distance from the previous letter. So, why did the “A” seem set apart from the other letters? The distance between letters was consistent. The problem was the font design for the “D” and the “A” when these letters were close together. Since both the “D” and the “A” angled away from each other, the distance between the “points” of the font letter made them look farther apart than the other letters. To fix this, I manually overlapped the point on the “A” with the point of “D” so the letters appear equally spaced even though they aren’t.
To discern means to perceive by sight, another sense, or intellect in order to recognize something as distinct or different. Solomon pleased the Lord in seeking the ability to discern what was right rather than asking for riches and honor. “Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil…It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this…asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, behold, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind…” (1 King 3:9-12 ESV)
Seeing that my apron was “off” does not compare to the wisdom and discernment that God bestowed on Solomon, or that He urges us to develop. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2 ESV)
Our culture resembles the one Paul addresses. That society, and ours, defines normal and acceptable beliefs or behaviors. Judgment is easy when the values obviously contradict Biblical teaching. We need discernment to judge subtle nuances when things seem just a bit “off.” Solomon pleased God by asking for discernment. We will too.