I sobbed my sad tale of woe, again, to another sympathetic friend. My ears used to throb from so many hours on the phone in those pre- blue tooth days. Each time another personal attack launched against Ken or I, those close to us braced for tearful, angry conversations with me.
This particular round of assault originated from our decision to move our church service from Christmas Day to Christmas Eve. Leadership was united and a large majority of members celebrated the change. Some, however, viewed it as a personal insult to their traditions. It mattered little to them that three quarters of the congregation stayed home on Christmas day, never attending. Ken and I became the bulls eye in their targets.
The Christmas Eve service launched beautifully. Its success created a new tradition for our tenure at that church. That first one, though, came with a high price tag. I faked Christmas joy a number of times during that particular season. Being cast as the villain in someone’s holiday story is not cool.
The barrages of criticism we endured at times overwhelmed us. We didn’t understand then that any leader moving with God’s purposes better plan on serious opposition. As Christmas drew closer, attacks intensified as critics understood that we weren’t giving in. With each nasty note or phone call, I poured my heart out to my inner circle, seeking wisdom and encouragement.
After I spoke with a number of godly sisters, then I prayed, asking God for help and courage. Wow. That looks even worse in print than it sounded in my head. That’s the way I rolled in my younger years. I didn’t enjoy the type of intimacy with God I do now. Even though I accepted Christ at the age of 5, I didn’t give him an all access pass until age thirty something.
One of the results of that was that I didn’t understand his role as Wonderful Counselor, in a personal way. This truth filled every Christmas season with music I sang with gusto, yet it never traveled from my lips to my heart. I chose to hear his thoughts through other’s voices instead of listening to the soft, still voice myself.
Let me tell you what I’ve learned about the wonderful counselor, the One you should turn to first with anything, anything, anything.
- He knows you. He doesn’t need to spend numerous counseling sessions with you just to understand your personality and background. Done and done. He is second to second with all current events in your life also.
- He knows everyone else. Agendas, motivations, schemes, plans and billions of personal histories could fit on a pin head of the knowledge he possesses. He knows all the whys behind people’s talk and actions.
- He is love. All heavenly actions and agendas flow from pure love. He is the Good Shepherd who will take you on rugged journeys filled with terrors, trials and triumphs. You can count on him completely when your back is to a wall or the way seems impassable. Never, never will He leave you hanging.
- He is wisdom. There is no problem too complex, no challenge too difficult to max out God’s supply of wisdom. You simply can’t stump him.
- He is unfailingly available. There is no waiting list for face to face time. He’s never too weary from listening to other clients to focus on your concerns.
- He is understanding. Emmanuel lived among us. He laughed, loved, wept, bled and died. No one will ever understand all the depths heights of your, unique human experience.
So, why did I use run to others before I got on my knees or fell on my face with God? Same reasons as some of you, I expect. Lack of understanding and knowledge of God’s word and His character, laziness, a desire for sympathy, enjoyment of a victim status, and the list goes on.
I don’t know what you are facing this Christmas season but God does. Will you please use me again, as a cautionary tale? Please don’t waste time and emotion running to others first with your heartbreaks. One of the most amazing things I’ve discovered is, if I will take my troubles to the throne room first, I don’t usually feel a need to peddle them anywhere else so quickly. Of course I still seek wisdom and counsel from many advisers for the big stuff. Of course I still share numerous prayer requests with friends and family. Nowadays, though, this is to confirm the truth of matters that God and I have settled privately or to stand in the strength of unified prayers.
Let the truth of His counsel and peace rule your heart and life this season.