I have been doing pastoral counseling for 20 years. It continues to be amazing to watch God Almighty, Creator of the Universe, the righteous and holy King come as the Shepherd to gently and lovingly tend to His lambs. But in the midst of these ministry sessions it is easy to lose sight of the fact that what happens in a ministry session is not primarily about individuals – it is much bigger than that. Let me share a scripture, a comment and a testimony to show you what I mean.
“He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” — Psalm 23:3
Let’s review what this verse DOESN’T say. He doesn’t guide me because I am a really nice guy. He doesn’t guide me because I try harder than most. He doesn’t guide me because I’m spiritual. He doesn’t guide me because I deserve it or He owes me – or even because I ask for it. God guides me for a reason bigger than me, a reason outside of me, a reason that doesn’t depend on me. He guides me for His name’s sake – to honor and bring glory to Himself.
One of the most important things to recognize is that everything the Lord does in an individual counseling time is about “the bigger picture.” There really is no such thing as “individual healing.” It may appear that way initially; but if we allow ourselves to step back and see it from His perspective, we will discover there is much more going on, as the following testimony illustrates:
“I am spending time with Him early this morning and begin to share about how I am seeing things differently. I see myself putting together the final pieces to a puzzle – it is ‘my’ puzzle, the puzzle of my life. And as the last pieces are going into place and the picture of who I am becomes more clear, I am sharing with Him about what I am going to do now. But He tells me No. I am baffled because it seems to me that finishing my puzzle was important and what He wanted to do. But Jesus shifts my gaze to Him and where He is looking and I see a huge puzzle. The picture on the puzzle is not exactly in focus because some areas are blurred. But He has me pick up a piece from ‘my’ puzzle and He walks with me to a place in the huge puzzle and helps me place ‘my’ piece in the big picture. And it fits – perfectly! What I thought only fit in my puzzle also fits perfectly in His puzzle! And it was not just a fit; my piece matched what had already been put in place and made the picture more complete and clear. So we begin to disassemble ‘my puzzle’ and move pieces over to His puzzle. And I am crying (literally) to see how my pieces fit – that He planned for them and now can use them. My puzzle now seems so insignificant when compared to His – His is so big and amazing.”
As the Lord works in the lives of us as individuals may He continue to be exalted and His glory be displayed – for His name’s sake.