There is Always a Plan
As biblical counselors, we must see the world through the lens of two opposing purposes as we counsel – the purposes of God and the purposes of the enemy.
“What does it really look like to trust God?”
“If I let go and give myself to God, I feel like something bad will happen.”
“So many people do this, how can it really be wrong?”
“If one more person tells me ‘Everything happens for a reason,’ I may scream.
These are just a few of the quotes I have heard in the last few days. Words spoken from frustrated hearts seeking answers for life. From the grieving mother trying to find peace in the midst of her loss to the teenager struggling with temptation to the client searching for guidance, these honest questions and thoughts represent the heart of every person as we seek direction in this life we are living.
Jesus made a very loaded statement when he said . . .
“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” (John 10:10)
There is so much truth and information crammed into this one verse! Before we pick it apart, one resounding truth stands out to me: There is always a plan.
Often people will walk through life assuming a haphazard attitude to the circumstances, relationships and events they find themselves in. Statements such as “good luck” or “life happens” or “what do you do?” indicate a loss of understanding as to why things happen in our lives.
While we certainly cannot understand everything because we are not God (Isaiah 55:9), our Creator makes one thing clear: There is always a plan.
In John 10:10, God reveals two very different plans at work in and around our lives. Our God has a purpose for us. And so does our enemy. God has a plan to fulfill His purpose for our lives. He tells us “I know the plans I have for you . . . they are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11). The enemy also has a plan to fulfill his purpose as he “prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)
As biblical counselors, and as people, we must see the world through the lens of these two opposing purposes. We gently lead others to understand the reality of these two competing plans, and we urge them to choose wisely which plan they will follow.
When counseling others, here are a few suggestions to lead others toward God’s awesome plan for their lives.
Identify God’s purpose versus Satan’s purpose. Share the truth of John 10:10. Help people understand that death comes in many forms. Not limited to physical and eternal death, death can impact us mentally, relationally, financially and in every other area of life. Put simply, when we follow our heart and reject God’s plan, things we love and care about die. Marriages struggle. Attitudes go negative. Families fall apart. Behaviors become addictions. Thoughts become a prison. Emotions become debilitating. Only God’s purpose brings life.
Expose the competing plans at work. Nothing is more powerful than an “ah ha moment” in the counseling session; that moment when the individual goes from confusion and questions, to true understanding. To guide this process, look for obvious marks of the enemy. Examine relationship patterns, family history or last week’s choices, and compare them to God’s design as mapped out in the Bible. Rather than seeing hard places in life as random happenings, we begin to understand that we might be following the wrong plan. And when circumstances happen outside of our control, we learn to lean in to Christ and continue to follow God’s design knowing He still has a plan in the midst of our pain. He will not leave us there. Help is on the way and hope is sure.
Choose wisely the plan followed. Once we learn how to identify and expose the competing plans for our lives, we must choose wisely. Encouraging others to read God’s Word for themselves is utterly essential. Every session, look for opportunities to share and apply the Bible to the struggles your clients face. Give homework (or as I like to call it “goals”) and instruct them to read the Bible for themselves. Ask them to share with you what they discover at your next session. “Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and feed him for a lifetime.” As biblical counselors, one of our greatest responsibilities is to teach others to read and love the word of God long after they’ve left the counseling office.
Always point to Jesus. Never allow this truth to be an assumption or a goal left unmentioned. Only in close relationship with Christ will we live out the purpose He has for us. Only in daily connection and intimacy with Jesus will we experience a rich and satisfying life. He wants your heart. He’s always wanted your heart. And He always has a plan for you that is beyond what you could ask or imagine.
Looking for a counselor? The Biblical Counseling Network (BCN) at the Association of Biblical Counselors serves as a database of churches and individuals who are dedicated to Jesus Christ, the eternal message of the Gospel, and who take seriously the work of biblical counseling.
Posted on July 13, 2016