The other day I hurt my back. I rested, used heat, even took some ibuprofen, but it was only getting worse. Finally, after three days of barely being mobile, I broke down and had my husband take me to the doctor. He prescribed a muscle relaxant to use in conjunction with the ibuprofen to at least give me some mobility.
My husband and I went to the CVS pharmacy to pick up the medication. When it was ready, I paid for it and the lady checking me out told me I had to sign in a book. When I looked at the column heading of what I was signing, it said that I was waiving my right to being counseled on the medication. I hesitated and turned to my husband, saying, “They are making me sign this saying I don’t want to be counseled about my medication, but they never even asked me. They never gave me the option of speaking with the pharmacist.”
The people behind the counter seemed to get upset. The pharmacist had just checked out another woman and he leaned over, pointing to the label on my bag. “It’s just a muscle relaxant!” He said. “It might make you sleepy.”
That was it. And he sounded very upset when he said it. He spoke very quickly and was loud. My husband said, once we were outside, that they were all pretty rude.
I felt like I signed the sheet based on a lie because I was never asked if I wanted to be counseled and when I said something about it (because I did have some questions) I was treated very rudely. I was glad to have the printout and Google because the pharmacist was no help at all and I had never taken this medication (that I can remember).
When I got to the car, I looked at the printout on the bag that gives the prescription information. In bold letters across the top it said, “COUNSEL New Drug.” But they did not honor that and were rude when I said something. It was like I was bothering them.
I showed it to my husband and he said, “What if the church did that?”
I thought about that for a while, then I realized that many of them do!
New Christians go through a lot of changes that deeply affect them. What if you had a “stamp” (not an actual stamp, but an invisible one) that said, “COUNSEL: New Christian” each time they experienced something. When they become believers, they are counseled. When they are baptized, they are counseled. When they receive the Holy Ghost, they are counseled.
I am not talking about long, drawn out sessions, but just having someone available to answer questions and offer guidance when it is needed.
When I was baptized, that was sort of it. I did not have any real support except for my best friend (who is now my husband). I had gotten the Holy Ghost before that and no one talked to me about it (except for my best friend/husband who found it amusing because I called him and told him I might be crazy).
Actually, it wasn’t until more than a year later that I was in a church service (a new church, the one I attend now) and a visiting pastor talked about the Holy Spirit. He explained what happened, what to expect, why it was happening, every single question I had ever had. Then he explained how to make it flow and he prayed with me. I did not have any trouble since that point. Previously, I would begin analyzing, wondering if I was doing it right (there is no particular “ right” if it is the Holy Spirit working through you), why I was doing it, how I was doing it, what it meant, when would it stop, the questions and analysis would paralyze me and it would stop.
Maybe mature Christians need that stamp too, though. Sometimes it is difficult to discern God’s will in certain situations. I know my husband and I are going through that right now. He is a very mature Christian, but I am sure he could use a “COUNSEL: Confused Christian” stamp or “COUNSEL: New Situation” stamp.
All I know is there is much, much more to getting people saved. What about the aftercare? It is the responsibility of each of us in God’s family. So, how are we doing? Are we making new (or mature) Christians just sign to waive their rights to counsel? How do we react when they press the issue like I did at the pharmacy?
Are we doing the very best we can to not only populate the kingdom, but also to nurture the new, the mature and the backsliders, the best we can? Are we providing counsel or just sending them on their way?