Counsel That Leads Us Forward

“I don’t know what to give her.”
“I can’t decide whether I should let him go to that–or not.”
“I don’t know how to have this conversation.”
“I not sure how to handle this situation.”

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given . . . and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9.6)

Wonderful Counselor.
God desires that we know Him as Counselor—and He doesn’t specify ‘only for the big stuff.’

Any time of year, we have decisions to make, circumstances to deal with. Some are big; others are small. Yet sometimes the smallest matters stress us out or keep us up at night. Or, we think about it so much, that mental exhaustion plagues us.

Maybe we unintentionally categorize things that warrant prayer and things that are too trivial to ask God?

“The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4.5b-6)

“In everything” includes the trivial and every category of life. When we talk and listen to God, we practice having relationship with Him. We draw nearer to our Shepherd and learn to discern His voice. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10.27)  Relationship.

Instead of only thinking about something, ask God and learn to listen for His guidance. This season can be extra-busy.  Pause to practice prayer—to seek God’s counsel—as you drive to work, take a walk or jog, wash the dishes, shower, wait in line, sit on hold on the phone . . .

Practice with the small stuff. Consider this:  Your friend or child seeks your counsel or advice for a small matter like: Which shirt should I wear?  Do you think I should go to that? What should I give him for Christmas? Your availability communicates value, support, faithfulness. How much more does God desire that we experience His steadfastness?

The simplest of counsel is sorta like a recommendation: Lord, which would be the best appointment date? . . . Please show me who I should ask to lead this committee? . . . When is the best time to tell them the news?

When I began to practice praying about the small or trivial, God grew my confidence that He really is with me all day and all night. Plenty of times I didn’t receive a clear answer, but His peace guarded my heart from worry as I made decisions or moved through a long hour. He became my Wonderful Counselor, sometimes providing a person as His tangible vessel for me to talk with at just the right moment. He grew my understanding of his love as Father—He doesn’t grade what we seek His counsel about; rather, He delights that He is the One whose counsel we seek.

Practice. Then, when the big decisions or circumstances come, discover that God has built a solid foundation of faith in your heart. Your relationship is intimate, and your dependence is strong.

When we seek God, we decide to believe that God’s way is the wise way. And even if we aren’t sure of his answer, we trust that He is with us and leading. He grows us to know Him as Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Dear God,

You know our need before we ask. Thank you for counselors that you provide in our life—professionals, family, friends, acquaintances—who seek you and serve as tangible vessels of your counsel and point us to you. Especially, prompt us to pray as we move through our day, to trust that you want us to come to you in everything, that we will know you personally as our Wonderful Counselor. Amen.

Dealing with Roadblocks

Last Saturday my friend Libby and I hopped in the car and headed to her church. Boxes of my books were in the backseat, and I was looking forward to speaking and sharing Becoming A Peaceful Mom. She was eager to gather with the others who helped organize the event to finish last-minute details. Excitement and anticipation for what the Lord had in store filled our hearts.

And then we saw the roadblock. Today was the “Mutt Strutt”, an event that draws hundreds of people and their dogs. We drove up to the police officer and asked if we could pass through somehow . . . No. We asked him about other street approaches to get to the church  . . . All have roadblocks in place. We explained about the event and how others would soon be driving up . . . I’m sorry. Of course, we had to see for ourselves, so we dashed around. All were blocked.

At the first roadblock, our frustration took form with self-determination to find a way to the church. We could not change the circumstance. We sighed a lot 🙂 and just maybe I went around one roadblock to park the car. And we prayed—We vented our questions, Lord, how do we get there? How is everyone else going to get there? How are we going to get these boxes up that hill that’s a couple of blocks away?  . . . Then our prayer shifted—God, you’re so much bigger than this. You have the way through. Show us what to do.

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41.10)

How you ever noticed that God’s help doesn’t always look the way we think it should? Libby jogged up the hill while making calls and soon walked back down toward me with a plan. We grabbed as many books as we could carry and began to walk uphill. Uphill among the walkers and dogs. . . Did I mention it was really humid?

(One of the walkers who offered to help carry books.)

As we panted, laughed, and our clothes began to stick to our backs, we praised God that he is good and is not surprised by any of this. We prayed that each woman who was trying to come would not be hindered by the roadblocks.

We got to the church, as did the rest of the team, 15 minutes before the event was to begin. We were sticky, dashing around, focused. And then the women began to arrive. God filled the newly accessible parking lot and then some. Mostly, He filled out hearts.

Do you ever feel hindered by a roadblock?  Or one roadblock after another seems to clutter your path?

No roadblock prevents God from fulfilling his plan.  Ever.

He goes before you and before your child. He walks with you. He leads with a plan, and hopes we seek him and then follow him.

Whatever you face, face it with God. Invite him in to the circumstance. Invite him to lead. Unload your worries and be filled with His peace. No matter how weak in faith or overwhelmed you feel, praise him for he is our faithful God.

Becoming Faith-Strong

img_0896I have that upper arm flabby skin that when I wave, the lower skin has its own wave going on. Ugh! I know the solution is exercise, so, I lift weights some-times, but not enough, nor often enough–and I’m a wimp when it comes to push-ups. Ah, if only such hard work wasn’t required!

I wonder if sometimes we think that growing in faith in God works like this—I need to work on trusting God more. I need to try harder to believe God. “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10.17) We receive the gift of faith from God, as we receive Jesus as our Savior. God grows our faith as we engage in relationship with him. Simply, walk closer with him. To believe God more, get to know him more and talk with him more. Invite God to help you, to show you how. He responds. He graces us to experience his faithfulness, and he grows our muscle of faith.

img_1071When I read this, my lungs inhale hope and exhale relief. “That’s right, that’s right” echoes like a refrain on a hard day when doubt or discouragement battle for position in my head and heart. Other days, “So true, so true” whispers as testimony to a small victory or encouragement in the day. This is one verse that I use to help me know God and know He is faithful and know that He is growing my faith in him STRONG as I mess up or struggle in a circumstance.

img_0884And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” (Colossians 2.6-7, NLT)(italics mine)

You and I believe in God. And many days we believe God—We look to him, trust and depend on Him. We have faith that He is the fullness of all that the scriptures tell . . . And then we live those days when we don’t look to Him. We look elsewhere—at our self, the other person, the relationship, the circumstance, or the history, and we end up believing one or more of these. We place our faith there. A sinking feeling weighs our heart down—yet, God is with us. He wants us to see our weakness, give it to him, draw closer, and grow strong.

We become faith-strong as we practice and exercise our muscle of faith.

img_0882Dear God,  
I have realized that I spend a lot of time thinking, fretting, worrying about people or outcomes or how to make something happen. You are LORD. You are sovereign. And You want me, all of me, all of my heart to trust you. I need your help to lay down unhealthy patterns of thinking and doing, to lay down fears—and to be still and absorb the peace of your faithfulness. Search my heart that I can unload all to you now. And fill these spaces in me with You. Thank you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.