For a child is born to us,
a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His government and its peace
will never end.
He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David
for all eternity.
The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies
will make this happen! (Isaiah 9:6–7 NLT)
All of us can benefit from a good counselor in our lives. For Hannah Gadsby, hers is often her spouse. Earlier this year, Gadsby, a comedian and writer, addressed the graduating class at the University of Tasmania. In her speech, she talked about being autistic and how, for her, that meant anxiety was a constant companion. She said when she gets into fits of anxiety threatening to overwhelm her, her spouse has taken to getting her to calm down by saying, “Don’t panic. Who do you want to be?” As Gadsby elaborates, “I think only a question has the capacity to be flexible enough to be wisdom. Statements are oblivious to the nuance of you and platitudes are nothing but idea corpses you have to reanimate as best you can, but a question always leaves room for you.”
Of all the different kinds of counselors in our lives – friends, spouses, therapists, pastors – we often experience this truth. The best counselors listen more than they speak and ask more questions than they provide answers. Even when they do give advice, the best counselors in the world are only as wise as their own experiences and knowledge; there is an upper limit to the quality and type of advice they can provide. They are also, at best, only part-time counselors. Even the most available and present person in your life is not available and present every second of every day.
The same is not true of the ultimate Counselor. “He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth” (John 14:17). God’s wisdom is founded in all truth and, as James 1:5 tells us, we need only to ask and he will freely give it to us. Even more, the Holy Spirit is always nearer than our own breath. He is never unavailable and is always present.
Every day – regardless of whether it was the best day we’ve ever had or our world has come to an end before our morning coffee is finished – the Spirit is available to us. Even more, he comes to us and invites us into a deeper relationship with God through becoming more like Jesus. In some ways, the Holy Spirit is asking us each day, “Who do you want to be?” and then waits for us to respond so that he can guide us on that path.
This begs the question: Who do you want to be today? And how can the Spirit guide you toward that goal?