Inhabitants of a fallen world, we are prone to making idols of lesser things. We devote our minds to worthless pursuits and spend our strength on unhealthy habits. But none of these can satisfy our soul.
THE GREAT LONGING OF THE SOUL
Made to worship, the soul simply MUST orbit around something other than itself.
While we offer it substitutes – hobbies, careers, people, money, prestige, the Bible says what the soul truly longs for is God.
My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.Psalm 84:2
My soul yearns for you in the night; my spirit within me earnestly seeks you.Isaiah 26:9a
Soul care is the means or satisfying this deep longing.
With our focus on God and developing a more intimate relationship with Him, soul care is the vehicle for making space in our crowded lives. Furthermore, it ushers us into His presence and helps us examine our life under His care. Soul care connects us to God points us to His wonder and glory.
Yes, my soul longs for God. Yes, I am desperate for space in the day-to-day busy. Yes, I crave time in His presence. Yes, I ache to glimpse His wonder and glory. But how?
4 WAYS TO ENGAGE IN DAILY SOUL CARE
Walk with God
Two verses at the very beginning of the first book of the Bible give us a glimpse into God’s heart for being with.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.Genesis 1:1
And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed.Genesis 2:8
God made the earth so that He would have a place to be with man and woman, but He didn’t stop there. He, then, created the Garden of Eden and placed man in it. This garden represented God’s great desire for being with and was the perfect home for the soul.
Our souls were meant to be with God, to walk with Him.
Walking with God in the Garden put Adam in close proximately to the Lord. Here, Adam was connected to God and positioned under His loving care. We see this in Genesis chapter 3 when God calls out, “Where are you?” God knew exactly where Adam and Eve were physically. What He was really asking was, “Where are you in relation to me?”
In the Bible, I find only three men of whom it was said that they walked with God – Enoch (Genesis 5:22, 24), Noah (Genesis 6:9), and Levi (Malachi 2:6). At the same time, I read that God was with many others – Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Gideon, Ruth, David, the nation of Israel, and many, many more. Each time, I see Him outside the Garden, showing up. Over and over, He is there in painful and difficult places until one day a baby is born – Immanuel, “God with us.”
On this side of the Cross, we don’t have to travel to the Garden. God is here, with us, and we can walk with Him. This practice provides connection, positions us under His loving care, and expresses our love for Him. Walking with God is not a life of more religious activity but one of peace, contentment, and good health for your soul. Walking is something you do with someone you care about. It’s about being with.Our souls were meant to be with God, to walk with Him. Click To Tweet
The best place to start daily walking with God is in the small moments.
Learn to pay attention. Deliberately look for God in the ordinary, and even mundane, moments of your everyday life.
Each morning when you wake up, invite God to be with you. Then try to picture Him walking next to you throughout the day – during your quiet time, getting the children off to school, driving to work, doing the laundry.
Another great morning habit to develop for focusing the soul and paying attention is to issue yourself a challenge:
In how many moments of my life today can I be consciously aware of and surrendered to God’s presence?
With this as your goal for the day, you will more readily find yourself in the place of peace, contentment, and good soul health you desire instead of getting caught up in religious activity.
Engage in Spiritual Practices
Sadly, spiritual practices are often thought of as draining obligations – things any “good Christian” MUST do. As such, it is no wonder that this powerful soul care tool often goes virtually untapped.
The first thing we must do is to change our mindset, and we can begin in the pages of the Gospels. As we look at the life of Jesus, we see that He engaged in certain practices that allowed God’s grace to keep replenishing His spirit.
- Fed His mind with Scripture.
- Participated in corporate worship.
- Had a circle of close friends.
- Took long walks… and more.
In his book, Soul Keeping, author John Ortberg cites a study that claims, “Prayer, meditation, and confession actually have the power to rewire the brain in a way that can make us less self-referential and more aware of how God sees us.”
Rather than seeing spiritual practices as draining obligations, we must come to see them as a means drawing near to God, becoming more aware of how He sees us, and connecting to His grace, energy, and joy.
Jesus knew the power of a rested soul. It is often recorded that He went away to a solitary place, and that He slowed His followers down so that their souls would not become fatigued.
Do you ever feel annoyed, have difficulty making a decision, struggle to resist impulses, or exhibit poor judgment? These are subtle indicators of soul fatigue – a type of fatigue that attacks the mind, body, and will. It makes us feel separated from God, distanced from others, and exhausted about life.
Perhaps you haven’t reached soul fatigue, but have you even felt that you needed the time and space to let your soul catch up with your body? If so, this is another good indicator that your soul needs rest.
Busyness is a part of life. It comes with the territory, and by itself it is not bad. Our problem comes when we allow busyness to squeeze God out. The soul was not made to run on empty. We must watch for the signs and provide it the rest it requires – a leisurely walk through the park, an unhurried prayer, a relaxed coffee date with a friend, a morning of solitude. Whatever the form of rest, not rushing.
Walking with God, paying attention, engaging in spiritual practices, resting –
powerful ways to daily care for the soul. Each one ushers us into the presence of God and helps us examine our life under His care. Vehicles for making space in our crowded lives and turning our focus Godward, these practices help us provide care for our soul and ultimately, develop a more intimate relationship with God.
This 2-color book offers a multitude of ways to intentionally nourish and care for our soul including: prayer practices, using scripture, building relationships, listening & solitude.