Our Thursday night Bible study group has been going through a study of the soul.
What is the soul? How is a soul lost? How is a soul saved? What makes a soul healthy? What makes a soul sick? Since we are made up of body, mind and soul, what part does our soul play in us as human beings…in who we are?
I’ve always thought of the soul as some sort of spiritual heart. You’ve seen those pictures of the little hearts with wings? Yeah. That was the image in my mind when I thought about the soul. Like when we die, our heart somehow becomes our spirit that sprouts wings and flies up to heaven. I’m embarrassed just typing these words. I’m not sure how I have walked with God for over thirty years and studied His Word for nearly as long and still missed such an important aspect of my spiritual being and my faith. But, I did.
I will say that I have grown to become much more aware of my soul after going through some difficult times in my life. The depths in which I have felt pain during these times can only be explained by pointing to something within that is much deeper and more integrated into my being than any other part of me. I used to hear people say they felt something in their soul. I now know what that means. All of this “soul feeling” caused me to become more aware and want to understand how and why those feelings run so deep.
I thought, perhaps, you might be walking in the same shoes as me and would want to hear about what I’ve learned so far. My journey to understand the soul has just begun. I hope reading this triggers something that causes you to want to learn more about your own soul. Just as you are unique, it is the same with your soul. If you want to study further, check out John Ortberg’s, Soul Keeping. John is a pastor at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in California. He had the privilege of knowing and spending time with the great spiritual mentor and theologian, Dallas Willard. In John’s book, he shares much of Dallas’ wisdom. I have chosen a few random excerpts and quotes from the study that have stirred my soul to share with you.
“What matters most, what marks our existence, the really deep reason why human life matters so much, is because of this tiny, fragile, vulnerable, precious thing about you called your soul. You are not just a self; you are a soul. You are a soul made by God, made for God, and made to need God, made to run on God. Which means that you are not made to be self-sufficient” (Dallas Willard).
The self is a stand-alone, do-it-yourself unit, while the soul reminds us we are not made for ourselves or by ourselves. The soul always exists before God.
Your soul connects your thoughts, your sensations, your emotions, your will, and integrates them into an entire being. This is the soul at work.
“The most important thing you can know about your identity is you are an unceasing spiritual being with an eternal destiny in God’s great universe” (Dallas Willard).
How do we keep our soul healthy?
“You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life. Hurry is the great enemy of our souls in our day. Being busy is mostly a condition of our outer world; it’s having many things to do. Being hurried is a problem of the soul. It’s being so preoccupied with myself and what myself has to do that I am no longer able to be fully present with God and others. There is no way a soul can thrive when it is hurried. And nobody will come along and unhurry your soul for you” (Dallas Willard).
You have one soul; and gaining the whole world will not help if you lose it.
Me: I have gone through some painful experiences that have caused my soul to ache. I have felt my soul struggle. My soul has cried out to God. When difficult times come again…and I know they will, I want to remember…
There is pain that means things are coming apart and there is pain that means things are coming back together. Surgery is as painful as stabbing, but it leads to healing not to death.
There is often pain in hope.
What if the real reason our soul feels like we never have enough is because God is not yet finished giving?
The most important thing about you is not the things that you achieve, but the person you become.
The unlimited neediness of the soul matches the unlimited grace of God.
When the soul and the grace of God occupy the throne of your life:
Your will is undivided and obeys God with joy.
Your mind thinks thoughts of truth and beauty.
Your body is filled with appetites that lead to excellent living.
Your soul desires what is wholesome and good.
Our souls crave healing. Our souls crave wholeness. Our souls crave life. The Good News is, God’s promise to us is healing, wholeness and life. This is grace.
As we experience Holy Week and the coming of the Passion of Christ, I pray the depth of our souls are stirred so that we may sense His endless love and His boundless grace. The promise of a Gift that brings life everlasting.
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound. I once was lost, but now I’m found.
Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is He who comes in the name of The Lord.
The journey continues.
Talk About It:
What about you? Have you ever thought about your soul? What causes it to struggle or feel pain? What makes your soul healthy? Have you ever experienced a healing of your soul?