Are you having a blessed season? I’m a little off, due to a very slow and bed-ridden start, but I’m beginning to see the (string of) lights.
So now, about Isaiah…
That first name caught me a little by surprise. As a vocal major, I had several opportunities to sing most of Messiah, either as a practice solo or choral piece or in performance with large groups and stunning soloists.
As you probably remember, the rhythm of this section is strong and highly identifiable…
And His name shall be call-ed
Won – derful
Coun – selor
The Mighty God
The Everlasting Father
The Prince of Peace.
What I never knew was that, in many translations of the Bible, those first two words in the list, wonderful and counselor, are one single descriptor, not separated by a comma. Although we know that Jesus is wonderful and that He is a counselor, Isaiah told us that the Messiah is/would be a Wonderful Counselor.
I look at that differently now. Partly because I have gone to counselors and highly recommend it for those of us who have experienced some rough patches we can’t seem to navigate on our own.
But partly because I have gotten “counseling” from people who clearly do not have my best interest at heart. And, in those cases, I was the one who paid a dear price for listening.
Counseling is a normal part of life. Like ‘most everyone, I ask for advice from trusted family and friends as well as reliable experts. There are generally two different reasons for consulting someone else:
- I have no idea what I’m doing, so please rescue me.
- I have a strong opinion about what I’m doing, so please just agree with me.
Sad to say, although I usually claim to be open and appear to want honest feedback, I usually fall head first into Category 2. Even when I go to see a for-real therapist or counsellor, I’m hoping, even confident, they see a well-balanced individual who is just a little hard on herself because of past indiscretions or family “issues,” paying a professional to tell her she isn’t really in such bad shape after all.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m a big fan of therapy. But unfortunately, I have a tendency to go in with I know I need to do something about this, but it’s not really awful, and here is what I’m planning to do. Awesome, right? I don’t even know why I’m here. I mask it a little better than that so as to sound less cocky. And I honestly believe I have an open mind when I’m there.
But there’s always that protective layer, ready to slough off anything hard or painful.
Truth is, I really have had some unexpected breakthroughs during conversations with people who know what to look for and what to ask. And probably, if I were totally open with them, I might learn more about myself, leading to a stronger and more authentic version of the real me. Probably, if I asked them, they’d have a lot more to say.
Which, if we are honest with ourselves, are the very reasons why a holy Wonderful Counselor is what we all need, even if we aren’t always present at the “session.”
In fact, our relationships with Jesus often look exactly like my approach to therapy. I’m here to get better, but if the truth is hard, don’t tell me. I can’t take the pain.
So on this first Monday of Advent, our season of waiting and longing, I remind you that we are all blessed by a …
I hope for you that in this season and the coming year you will remember to be totally open with Jesus. You might learn more about yourself, leading to a stronger and more content version of you.
I hope that in this season and the coming year, you will ask Jesus if He has more to say to you. And then, be present. Listen. Learn. Trust.
He is Wonderful.
He is the Counselor.
Jesus, our Messiah, the hope of the world, is our Wonderful Counselor.