The old familiar lyrics are echoing in my mind… “When peace like a river attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.” …or is it?
I have spent some time asking God to diagnose the condition of my soul as I’ve been gleaning from the new sermon series, “Soul Care”. The health of our souls is directly related to our abiding relationship with Jesus Christ.
Jesus asks, “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” Matthew 16:26
They seem like such easy questions to answer, but oh, how often we get caught up in the worldly flow of things, spending our time trying to gain what the world offers, or at least gain control of our own little worlds.
My soul, the real me, longs to connect with God, and it’s my responsibility to care for my soul. It’s your responsibility to care for your soul. How do we do that? It makes sense, doesn’t it, that in order to care for the soul we should stay connected to the One who created it, the Source of all life, the One who breathed life into us?
God knows just the right conditions we need in order for our souls to thrive. If we neglect the deepest part of who we are, by neglecting the abiding relationship Jesus is beckoning us to enter in to, then our souls will suffer greatly.
Take for instance, the parable of the sower in Mark 4:1-9. God, the Master Gardener, sows the seeds of His Living Word into souls, desiring for roots to emerge and grow deep and strong to provide sustenance and strength. But the human heart is no easy field to cultivate. Life has a way of making our souls so very hard, much like the soil mentioned in this parable, and the seed doesn’t stand a chance.
I can recall a time in my life when my soul was hard. I was bitter and cynical. People hurt me, life was dark, and God seemed very far away, but He wasn’t. He is so faithful to pursue His children. He sent people into my life who were part of a tilling process.
I entered another season. Seeds were scattered, yet the soil of my soul was shallow. I was apprehensive of His goodness. Could this all be real? Could this Love really be for me? God brought others into my life who came alongside me; patiently and gently picking up stones of doubt, fear, and shame that were littering the surface of my soul. God was sending roots deeper.
(*Photo Credit: Angelee Lapish)
But doesn’t life have a way of getting cluttered if we’re not careful? We can become entangled in worldly stuff, and self, and sin. All that busyness, even the activities being done for the Kingdom, can start to choke and overwhelm us like the thorns of the field, and all that striving doesn’t produce any lasting fruit. Jesus tells us that abiding, not striving, is the key.
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened [by religious rituals that provide no peace], and I will give you rest [refreshing your souls with salvation]. Matthew 11:28 (AMP)
So what is the condition of your soul? Are you abiding in Jesus, the True Vine (John 15)? Are you allowing Him to bear fruit in and through you? As I meditated on these very questions, a dear friend, and frequent tiller of the soil of my soul, shared this amazing verse with me, “Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.” James 1:21 (KJV)
Let us not forget, we have been grafted in to the very life of Jesus; we are one. He plants His words in us, and if our souls are fertile and receptive to truth and weeded of any competing loves, God’s word germinates and bears lasting fruit. His Word is a powerful seed… SO POWERFUL! There is so much life and nourishment that flows from Him. He is the Source of our lives. To have His words “engrafted”, “abiding”, “remaining”, and “planted” in us should be what shapes our identity! As we humbly receive and obey the words the Lord of the Harvest plants in our hearts, our souls are saved.
I have realized that this is a life-long journey. He keeps reminding me that He is the God of the process, and I can trust Him.
Yes… It is well with my soul.
“Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” ~Jesus