My favorite color is orange. On my desk is an egg-shaped palm stone of polished carnelian; it glows with a burnt red-orange hue. It is so clear, in fact, light passes through it like crystal.
For whatever reason, I find the color calming. But I also love bright neon orange (I have many T-shirts from Walmart in that color; if you ran into me at Costco, chances are I'll look like a big pumpkin).
Just seeing someone peeling an orange (and smelling it) makes me happy.
But did you know that neon colors are relatively new? Neon paints have only been around for the last 100 years.
Just think: during the entire history of the world, 99.9% of the population never had the thrill of seeing neon colors. How drab the world must have been.
Living in the atomic age as we do, in the 21st century, there's a tendency to believe we have "seen it all."
But let me suggest that we have barely scratched the surface of this universe's mysteries.
Discernment: Seeing Colors in a Colorblind World
The gift of discernment allows us to see truth and "things as they really are" (Jacob 4:13). As opposed to things as they seem.
This is the great gift and promise of God, to endow us with the power to pierce the veil (i.e., things as they seem) and to behold Him as He really is (see Ether 12:19).
People think that parting the veil is the hard part. If only! Even more difficult is trying to share the things we've discovered with others (I mean, Ezekiel's wheels and rainbows are a good example).
Jesus had a gift to communicate spiritual truths; He used parables and pithy sayings to teach profound realities.
But it was hard for Him to see his disciples abandon Him over "hard sayings" and spiritual cannibalism (John 6).
Anyway, our naked eyes perceive only the superficial ― the top layer of skin; the temporal topography of our mortality ― whereas the things of God lie beneath the surface, invisible to our "natural eyes."
Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God.
See? (Pun intended.) No, that's the point: We do not see; our natural mind stares out the window as if it were night with no street lamps, only able to pick out the occasional flash of headlights from passing cars.
The irony, of course, is that our natural eyes render us spiritually blind.
The opposite of natural eyes is the "eye of faith." The scriptures speak about parting the veil "with an eye of faith" (Ether 12:19); this is the way we see God and become His witnesses.
The veil shall be rent and you shall see me and know that I am― not with the carnal neither natural mind, but with the spiritual.
Where can we find a spiritual Geiger counter to measure the invisible? What can we use as a spiritual microscope to peer beneath the veil?
The Science of the Spirit
The gift of discernment makes us spiritual scientists. No lab coat required.
Back in 1795, scientist Henry Cavendish (who must have been bored or something) decided to remove all of the oxygen and nitrogen from a container of air.
He discovered something hidden in the jar after it had been emptied of air.
Today we call it argon ― one of a handful of noble gases (not sure what makes them so "noble," but I do know some people who put on aristocratic airs).
The tricky thing about scientists is they are rarely content; they always want to dig deeper. Explore further. So Cavendish heated the argon and, lo and behold, he discovered another noble gas: neon.
Well, more than 100 years after Cavendish's discovery, in 1910, a guy named George Claude had the "bright" idea to pump neon gas into a lamp bulb, which produced an eye-popping red-orange light.
The rest is history.
We are surrounded by spiritual matter; we are awash in it ― and yet our natural senses do not discern it.
How, then, do we gain the gift to spiritually "see" (and wouldn't that make us all seers who have this gift)?
Of all the eyes we have ("eyes" referring to how we perceive and understand reality) ― such as the eye of reason and the eye of knowledge ― there is one eye that is better than any other for perceiving and understanding the things of the Spirit.
The eye of faith.
Notice "eye" is singular in this instance. It is not our "eyes" of faith. Why is that? Well, because our "eye" must be single:
If your eye be single [wait for it . . . ] to MY glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; [watch what comes next] and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth ALL things.
Thus we see, as is so often the case when it comes to spiritual gifts, that the gift of discernment is a companion to the gift of faith; they are inseparably connected.
By which we can infer that the reason we are so bad at discerning is because we have, in fact, very little faith.
But please don't take that last statement as a dis; even someone as great as Peter was admonished by the Lord himself:
O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
I don't read those words as a put-down; I read them as saying, "I am with you; just believe. Trust in my love; I've got you, Peter."
Shield of Faith
My shield of faith is neon orange (Ephesians 6:16). What's yours?
One of the best defenses we have against deception in these times is our faith in Christ (and, of course, our love for our fellow-man).
I believe one of the reasons the Lord withholds so much from us is because our faith is fragile ("weak" - see D&C 86:6), and so we are unable to accept the "greater things" of God into our current understanding of reality.
Which is to say, anemic faith stunts all the other gifts, hardening our hearts, for God works "according to [our] faith" (2 Nephi 27:23).
So a lack of discernment is likely a symptom of a lack of faith. A mustard seed in Melchizedek's hand grew into a translated city of holiness; but the same mustard seed in King Noah's hand bore the fruit of decadence, luxury, captivity and death.
What are you doing with your mustard seed?
And, if I may, despite appearances and ample affirmations to the contrary, there is ― in reality ― very little faith found on the earth at this time (I have it on good authority).
And if it so be that they will not believe these things, then shall the greater things be withheld from them.
(3 Nephi 26:10)
By this we learn that for our discernment to grow, our faith must expand; we need to keep an open mind (when I hear "Think Celestial," I think, "If we knew what Celestial really was, there'd be a lot more shaking in our boots and far fewer memes about it on Facebook).
You see, the key is NOT to "Think Celestial"; it is to Live Celestial (by which I mean, to abide in Christ's grace).
What Does it Mean to "Live Celestial"?
Christ's voice (his word) is what inflates our feeble faith, making it stronger than mountain roots and deeper than ocean floors.
His words (the voice of God) breathe confidence into our anxious hearts, causing us to believe all things and to hope all things.
To Live Celestial, it requires us to believe that "with God, all things are possible."