Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Soul Care #2: Nurturing the Inner Person

"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want... He restores my soul." ~Psalm 23:1

In the last post about soul care, I shared about what led Mr. Smith (the author of Embracing Soul Care) to the point of realizing his own need to nurture his soul.

Now I admit, this can sound a little unorthodox or even new agey. If you think of this in terms of "taking time for ME", this idea of "soul care" will seem incorrect or unbiblical; but if you understand that nurturing your soul actually means renewing your strength in the LORD, it all comes into proper perspective. In reality (when you take the long view of Christian history), this method of practicing spiritual disciplines, making time to be quiet before the Lord, and focusing on the simple things in life is quite orthodox.

And it's biblical:
  • "We urge you, brothers, aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs." ~1 Thessalonians 4:10-11
  • "Let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious." ~1 Peter 3:4
  • "Take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life." ~Deut. 4:9
  • "O God, be merciful to me, for in You my soul takes refuge." ~Psalm 57:1
  • "O LORD, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised to high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul." ~Psalm 131: 1-2
  • "For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, 'In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.' " ~Isaiah 30:15
  • "The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD." ~Lamentations 3:25-26

One idea that has been transformative for me lately has been to realize that "I" am not a brunette who is about 5'7", still carrying leftover baby weight, with size 8 feet, who wears glasses. "Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart." While it is possible for me to have a twin who is completely identical on the outside, my soul is the unique inner part that can be turned Godward or selfward... it's the part that the bulk of Scripture is concerned with.

The person who gripes when dirty clothes don't get picked up... the person who loves to learn new things and take on new projects... the person who yells when frustrated... the person who goes deep and wants to understand and know my friends... the person who loves to snuggle and giggle with my kiddos... the person who has a tendency to be cynical and causticly sarcastic... the person who really does, in her inmost parts, want to be like Jesus... that is me.

My soul is the part of me that can RUN TO or run away from God.

I am not "the things I do", but the things I do contribute more to me than the things I wear. "I" am the gal on the inside... it's what makes me me.

It's not that it's bad to take time to look nice. But we can all too easily confuse these external things -- the clothes or makeup we wear, the car we drive, the kind of house we select, the way we decorate it-- with who we really are. While it is possible to have these things reflect who we are, our soul IS who we really are. And it's the part of us that is eternal.

We spend so much time and money on external, temporary things, and yet we often neglect the one thing that will be ours for eternity-- our souls. God wants to sanctify our souls, and we partner with Him through prayer and obedience in order to submit to that process of sanctification.

Is this challenging for you too? Maybe it's just me... that could totally be the case. :) But maybe this shifts some things in your head like it did for me... does it change anything for you to remember & focus in on the eternal and significant nature of your soul?

Any thoughts you'd like to share?


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