March 22, 2010

Monday Lenten Meditation III: Is Counseling Like Asking A Stranger For Help?

"I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
I have set the Lord always before me.
Because He is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken." --Psalm 16:7 & 8

On the way home from work a few days ago, I listened to a Christian, "call in counseling" program. I don't like to fiddle with radio or CD controls while driving in busy traffic, so I listened to nearly half an hour of free (or perhaps quite expensive) advice dispersed via the airwaves.

I am not opposed to counseling, or visiting counselors, or working with counselors because I think a wise, sensitive counselor who has taken the time to know a client can be very helpful in certain situations and under certain circumstances.

After listening to this program, however, I wondered why someone would call a total stranger and ask these types of questions: "Should I stay married to someone who has no interest in working on our marriage?" "Will God heal my illness?" "Should I leave my job to start a business or relocate to another town?" "What should my wife and I do with our retirement account--should we pay off our house, or just keep the money invested?"

These were real questions, and I understand why an intelligent person would seek counsel before taking these types of big steps. I just couldn't get past the idea that no matter how "anointed" someone may be, it's a real leap to think someone can tell you how to handle a major area of your life when the "adviser" hasn't spoken to the "advisee" for more than a minute or two.

It may be more difficult and less popular, but I really believe God can give us the definitive, absolute guidance we need to make tough decisions when we really don't know what to do. Perhaps a decision is not necessary in every crisis, but if one must make a choice or go past a crossroads, cannot God speak directly into our hearts, guiding our circumstances and thoughts, to move us into the right place?

I believe God can and does use godly counselors who have worked on establishing relationships with their clients. The "instant" advice that passes for counseling on too many Christian radio stations is not a good thing.

I can trust completely the God who has known me since eternity, who created my life and all of the circumstances of my life, and who loved me enough to die for me and redeem me from sinfulness and uselessness. God is big enough--to get His revelation through to me in a clear, convincing way; to arrange and disarrange the circumstances of my life so that my path is clearer; and to mend and bend my heart so that I want to know and do what He tells me. Best of all, He will empower me to act upon and fully finish what He reveals. Can there be any better guidance and counseling than this?

Here we are, in the mid-point of the Lenten season, celebrating Jesus Christ's painful, humiliating, and redeeming sacrifice on the cross at Golgotha. Having done all of that for me, can I doubt His ability and willingness to tell me what do to today, tomorrow, next week, or next year?

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