Redemption is as easy as making your way from Kwakoegron, Suriname to Paramaribo. Got it? OK, good!
That’s what counsel can sound like when we don’t go into detail. I have no idea where I am, where I’m going, or how to get there. What’s the first thing you did when you read that? You probably looked it up on Google Maps. This is the “big picture.” Is that even a country? What continent is it in? What countries is it beside?
Suppose that you were actually taking this trip, though. What is the second thing you do? You look up directions. Am I walking, driving, or taking public transit? Where do I rent a car? How much money do I have? When do the trains leave? What is my first turn? You go into extreme, ground-level detail.
We develop a toxic culture when we don’t live in the details. We live on words like “repent, love, mission, pray, and idol”, but they really only conjure up fuzzy notions. We quote without laboring, and underneath the façade of smooth words, we often have little to offer. May God rescue me from this! And you as well.
We, ourselves, have to first learn what it really looks like to overcome strong, real idolatrous desires in the heat of the moment by savoring a spotless God willingly slaughtered for criminals who belittled Him. We must learn by practice what it looks like to catch ourselves in godless, envious, angry thought (when nobody’s looking), to run to God quickly, and to savor something real about who He is. We do this right this moment and then again 30 seconds from now.
Detail is the bread and butter of counsel:
- Why am I anxious and depressed right now? Who is God, and what is He like?
- Why am I so angry right now? Who is God, and what is He like?
- Why am I longing for television right now? Who is God, and what is He like?
- Why am I obsessed with food right now? Who is God, and what is He like?
- What changes tomorrow because of this passage of scripture?
- What does it look, feel, smell, and taste like for God to be:
- Patient, faithful, invasive, just, compassionate, a groom, a father, a shepherd, etc?
- What can I give up to have more time to think on and enjoy God?
- Who will I enjoy God with? What time will I do it and where?
- What is my plan for when I know this sinful desire will probably try to trip me up?
The narratives, prophecies, psalms, gospels, and epistles of scripture provide no shortage of vivid, hands-on detail when talking about God, mankind, and redemption. Following the example of scripture, always be looking to go further with what something really looks likein mundane life. Unless we go there, not only are those we’re counseling probably bewildered, but we might be as well and not even know it. Detail is a keen gut check for our own living, and it’s essential for those we’re helping.