The health of our soul
Do you pay attention to your soul? You’re not just a self, you are a soul. Dallas Willard says, “You’re a soul made by God, made for God, and made to need God, which means you were not made to be self-sufficient.”
King David wrote in Psalm 23:3, “He restores my soul.” Psalm 103 says, “Bless the Lord oh my soul, and all that is within me.”
God does not want you to improve your soul by willpower. He wants to heal your soul. John Ortberg says, “A deep soul lives in conscious awareness of eternity, not simply today. It notices and observes and reflects in surprising ways. A soul has depth when it is connected to God.” Psalm 43:5 asks the question, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” Christians must not allow their souls to be cast down.
How many Christians are living with an unhealthy soul? The soul is not well when we rush so much. Today we have so many tools to assist us and yet we are always in a hurry. Our souls are troubled for the wrong reasons. Many Christians have a hard time even hearing God. I was privileged to attend the National Gospel Coalition Conference in April. For three days, I heard some of the best Bible preachers in America. I was with 6,000 pastors from 50 states and 23 countries. I had my Bible open every day for hours. I wonder now if I was quiet enough to hear God. I left the conference and went to see my elderly mothers, where I met my younger brother, Pat. He gave me the book “Soul Keeping” by John Ortberg. “Soul Keeping” focuses on the health of your soul.
Ortberg says “I and no one else is responsible for the condition of my soul.” I was challenged to arrange my days so I experienced deep contentment, joy and confidence in my everyday life with God. I have been focusing every day now on the health of my soul. I know God is the one who restores my soul but I have my part in keeping my soul healthy. I know it doesn’t matter what I do, how much I accomplish, how successful I’m in the world’s eyes. What matters is simply being with God.
I attended the International School of Theology. Dieter Zander was finishing his last year when I started. Dieter was considered the most successful seminary student in the school’s history. He began a church that grew to more than 1,000 people in his last year of school. He was one of the most gifted worship leaders in the country. The largest church in America at that time Willow Creek Community Church hired him to lead its church services. In his late 40s one night Dieter had a stroke. He could no longer use his right hand. He could no longer sing or hardly speak. Dieter now works in the back room of a Trader Joe’s grocery store. He breaks down boxes and collects the bruised fruit that cannot be sold. From him it goes to feed the hungry, who don’t care if their apple is lopsided. Dieter once wrote in a letter: “It is good I work there. I am like that fruit. I am imperfect. Inside I am the same person, the same sense of humor, the same thoughts. But my words betray me. What should take three minutes to say is an hour of frustration. People lose patience with me. My world is small, and quiet, and slow and simple. No stage. No performance. More real. Good. It is well, it is well, with my soul.”
Ben Fleming is the pastor of Silver Hills Community Church.