Preparing for the Wonderful Counselor
“. . . and his name will be called Wonderful Counselor . . .” (See Isaiah 9:6a, RSV).
I have worked as a counselor and I know there is only so much that can be done for someone who needs help. There is an old joke: “How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb?” The answer: “Only one, but the light bulb must really want to change!” Counselors, wonderful or otherwise, can only do so much without our cooperation. So, what does it take to make a trip to a wonderful counselor worth our while – even if the Wonderful Counselor is Christ? When we go to a counselor we usually need to confess some things. There are things we need to say. Real, meaningful, helpful confession requires honesty. In our religious setting we might look into the Scriptures – perhaps the Ten Commandments or the Golden Rule – and assess ourselves. Then we must confess (agree with) God’s assessment of our lives. God doesn’t have opinions – he has judgments! When we stand before a holy God we will acknowledge the sins we have committed, the graces we have omitted, and our own misguided orientation toward a world out-of-touch with its Creator. Isaiah the Prophet got it right as he stood before God’s throne: “Woe is me, for I am undone. I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips” (see Isaiah 6:1-11). What do you need to confess? When we go to a counselor we need to listen to some things. There are things we need to hear. We must hear that we are responsible. There are sometimes short-term results and always long-term consequences of our decisions and actions. “The wages of sin is death”, Paul wrote. “Whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap.” We must not be like the individual of whom it was said, “He sows wild oats all week long and then goes to church on Sunday and prays for a crop failure!” But we must also hear that we are loved – in spite of our sins and imperfections. The Christmas Story is found in Matthew 1 and Luke 2, but it is also found in John 3:16, and in the stories of the prodigal son, Zaccheus, Mary Magdalene, and the Apostle Paul. The greatest fact in the history of the universe is that God loves you and me. You and I need to hear that! When we go to a counselor, to maximize the benefits of the visit we must follow-up on some things. There are things we must do. We must take a God-ward initiative. We turn away from ourselves and the distractions of life and turn our faces toward God. The Bible calls this about-face “repentance”. Then we must make a humanitarian initiative. We embrace our neighbor with love. We share the message we have heard. We give the loved we have received. As you prepare for the Wonderful Counselor this year, are there things you need to confess/say to God? Are there things you need to hear/take to heart? Are there things you need to do? Are there people you needs to love?
Dr. Faught is Pastor of The LaFollette United Methodist Church.