Happy New Year!
It never ceases to amaze me how quickly God can speak to the human heart. From the very beginning of my counseling career, I learned that the best way to minister to the hearts and minds of hurting people is:
- To offer a listening ear and
- Help them get into the Scriptures to gain God’s perspective on them and their circumstances.
What I am about to share is a lesson I learned from many of the Clients I have been privileged to serve. Many who seek counsel are broken . . . others are angry . . . ALL are in need of direction, feel misunderstood and often are devoid of hope. Respecting the it took courage for them to make that first phone call asking for help, I am humbled by the privilege and responsibility that I bear–not only to them, but to God–as we work together.
I decided to write this post as we enter this new year:
- To offer wisdom and courage to those of you who are struggling with fear and trepidation in these uncertain times,
- To help deepen your relationship with Christ as you gain confidence in His ability to shepherd your heart through any storm,
- As a practical means of helping you encourage a friend or family member who has been spiritually or emotionally”stuck” for too long.
So what is the means by which you (and/or your friend or family member) can move into the new year with wisdom, courage and even confidence? Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 provides our first clue:
“Two are better than one because they have a good return for their work.
For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion.
But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up . . . .
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
We use this passage in the Counseling Room to illustrate God’s vision for healthy relationships. We talk about how helping others honors God’s command to love one another–two ARE better than one! However, we need God as our third strand, to gain the wisdom, courage and confidence needed when we are in trouble.
More than needing a listening ear to talk to,
we need to develop an ongoing conversation with our Lord and Creator.
That is the benefit of Journey Notes Praise Journaling.
If you are not familiar with Journey Notes Praise Journaling, the introduction and instructions are accessible at the top of this page. It is a process I developed twenty-plus years ago when I started counseling–believing that as a Biblical Counselor, my Clients deserved far more than just a “good listening ear.” My goal for my clients as they entered into the Journey Notes process was that they would gain wisdom and courage as they worked through their problems. This they did as we worked together over weeks and months. The benefit that I did not expect was how the vast majority gained confidence in God’s ability to shepherd their hearts. Most notable to me were those Clients whose problems remained about the same, but who no longer looked at themselves as victims, but actively chose to trust and honor God as Sovereign and Good. It has been amazing and humbling to watch the transformation that takes place in those Clients who enter a conversation with God through their Journey Notes.
In the Counseling Room, there is a simple principle we go by:
With every tragedy/ disappointment that comes our way,
we are gifted with an opportunity to trust God more.
For those who have learned to rely on God’s Spirit and His Word using the Journey Notes Praise Journaling process, this makes total sense. It makes sense because they have experienced the faithful working of God as their Shepherd, not only helping them with their problems, but in transforming their minds and hearts as they endeavor to apply His teaching to their lives. It takes courage to trust God like that, but when we do the outcome is nothing short of miraculous.
The times Jesus lived in were also perilous. Knowing that He would soon be arrested and taken from His disciples, Jesus sought to prepare His disciples for what would be a frightening turn of events for them. In John 14:18-20 Jesus offered words of assurance that they would not remember until later:
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
Before long, the world will not see Me anymore, but you will see Me.
Because I live, you also will live.
On that day you will realize that I am in My Father,
and you are in Me, and I am in you.”
Such powerful words to be strengthened by! Jesus offered His disciples (and all who trust in Him) MORE than a shelter in the midst of storms or a place to stand. Jesus words call us to move forward in faith as He directs our steps:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.”
Matthew 11:28, 29
HAPPY NEW YEAR . . .
ALL TO HIS GLORY!