Vision, Redemption, Counseling

(I also re-posted a version of this on Christian Psychotherapy Services blog, titled Counseling & the Gospel.)

when the days drew near for him (Jesus) to be taken up (to heaven), he set his face to go to jerusalem – luke 9:51

set his face.  i love that.

other versions say, “Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem,” and “He steadfastly & determinedly set his face to go to Jerusalem.”

i love that verse in Luke.  it reminds me that Jesus’s ministry was VERY focused and purposeful and he set his heart and mind towards that one main purpose/vision he had, no matter what circumstances or discouragements came his way.  He knew his purpose on earth was to go to the cross.

Do we have such clarity of purpose in our own lives, personally & professionally? I really believe in vision – having vision for our lives.  It transforms our sense of self, our emotions, our motivation, our drive… we bear fruit.  We are not shaken by discouragements or attacks or strange circumstances or difficulties as much.

We know God gave each of us a vision and purpose, and we know He is on our side, fighting the battles for us.  We also know he has already won the war, so the battles we face on the journey are temporary and not how things are going to end.  We know at the end of the day, His will is going to happen.  And His will is for his glory and our good, our redemption.  We rest in that truth.

Thank God for His vision for Jesus and for the Cross.  And thank God for the stories (even the battles, discouragements, temptations, pain) that weaved in and out of that journey, because it gave him all the more glory.  I don’t think we’d really GET the depth of his grace, without the difficulties.  “No one ever truly tastes the sweetness of grace without first tasting the bitterness of disillusionment.” -Stuart Stogner

Get it? We are part of God’s larger story of redemption.  Why else would the Bible be full of stories of individuals & families and what God has done in and through them, so powerfully and actively?  It is full of stories of His redemption in specific people’s lives.  The Bible’s foundation is rooted in the gospel:

The gospel is the good news of the new world coming. The plot-line of the Bible is:

1) God created the world,
2) The world and humanity fell into sin and decay (brokenness),
3) But God sends his Son to redeem the world and create a new humanity, and
4) Eventually the whole world will be renewed. Death, decay, injustice, and suffering will be all removed.

(above definition from Tim Keller)

When people come to counseling, they are confessing their brokenness and need for help, and God is revealing what His plan of redemption is in the lives of these individuals he loves.  Counseling is not selfish, self-focused, or self-centered.  We are looking to God for help, dependent on His holy spirit to intervene, and partaking in His greater story of redemption.  People come to seek freedom, to live into who He made them to be.  God gets the glory.  And His children experience restoration and transformation.  New life.  It’s not overnight.  It takes time.  But I believe that God’s plan for redemption and restoration is completely connected to counseling.  Counseling, then, becomes a picture of the gospel in many ways.  The large vision He has for each of us is redemption.  Restoration.  Wholeness.  Becoming who He says we are, adopted sons and daughters, accepted & loved, because of Christ.

i like this quote:

(The Bible) is more concerned to trace God’s ways—his character, purposes, and his cosmic redemptive plan —than it is to give modern believers character-building resource material.
-Dr. John R. Sittema,

When it comes to my personal and professional vision, I have more interest in helping people see how much they NEED God versus how much they can change on their own and improve themselves (bc it’s not possible without God!).   Christian counseling can be so controversial in that way, but I do not feel I am encouraging individuals to focus on self-improvement and especially any kind of growth without God.

My hope, instead, is to guide others in seeing what God is doing in their lives, since I absolutely believe He has a story of redemption written into everyone’s lives.  I’m interested in helping individuals & families toward seeing who God truly is, and what God is doing in redeeming this world, which includes His specific vision for each person as it connects to His greater story.  There is so much freedom when we believe God is actively working in our lives, giving us hope and redemption.  There is such joy and freedom when we partake with him actively, as he re-creates us, as he restores us.

What a relief.  To be made in his image, to live INTO who he intended us to be.  We are not our own, we have been bought with a price.  Thank God for that truth.  Thank God we belong to him.

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