From the moment our alarm goes off in the morning, we are counseling ourselves. We are listening to other counselors, too, and our hearts are pushed and pulled in different directions with everything that we hear and choose to do and say. David Powlison, in his class Dynamics of Biblical Change, tells us a story of the different counselors that bid for his heart and attention one winter morning.
“Many years ago when our kids were little, I woke up first. There was a raging blizzard outside. The windows were rattling, snow pelting the windows. Six inches was on the ground, and it was piling up rapidly. So, I knew what the weather was like. Even still, I turned on the radio to hear about the weather. The first words that came on were: ‘Winter weather warning! Trailer jack knifes! Banks closed! Everything scary spooky!’
They wanted to hook me, and there’s no better way to hook me than anxiety and fear. So, there was voice #1. Counselor #1 was the radio.
Counselor #2 was my wife. Nan woke up and said, ‘Ah! It is beautiful!’ Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. Both Nan and the radio were talking about the exact same phenomenon. Counselor #1 said, ‘Be afraid! Anxiety! Scary!’ And Counselor #2 said, ‘This is a beauty of the Lord! Psalm 147 says that he makes the snow and frost, and this is an occasion to love him and worship him.’ It was the same facts, but with a different drive behind them.
About 15 minutes later, Counselor #3 entered the fray. Counselors #3, #4, and #5, actually. The kids came in and said, ‘Mom, Dad, is school cancelled? Can we go sledding?’ Completely different worldview. Completely different implications. Their behavioral, emotional, and logical conclusions were different: go to the garage, get the sleds.
So, everybody was talking about the snowstorm, but it engaged them differently.
Finally, Counselor #4 came in—a neighbor. The plows had come through and a man started to curse. ‘This #@% & snow storm!’ His thoughts were, ‘Philadelphia after a snowstorm is Hell...and Florida is Heaven! And I’m going to complain about it so that you feel like you’re in Hell, too!’”
We live in a world that is overflowing with voices. Every interaction confronts us with a new voice. A new counselor, saying: “Believe me. Believe my interpretation of your world. See things my way.” Your job, your spouse, your kids, and your morning routine can all put you into a tailspin. But there is another voice who asks the Lord to “teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom…Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.” (Psalm 90:12, 14) This is where wise counsel begins: when we posture ourselves before the living God. It begins with me waking up and saying to my God, “Satisfy me with your steadfast love that I may rejoice,” even in the midst of other voices yelling.
Paul Maxwell is a content curator at CCEF. He also coordinates social media and communications at CCEF.