In my last post I mentioned that I’ve noticed that I can be assured of the final destination of my soul but still be struggling with the present condition of my soul. To refer to a soul being lost, according to John Ortberg, is not just a reference regarding a soul’s destination but rather refers to it’s condition. The soul can be broken. It can be unhealthy. I can be disintegrating. This is exactly what happens when the soul is not connected to God and cared for because the soul was created for connection with God and the soul is needy. The soul needs constant restoration and care and keeping to be healthy.
So, how do we do that? How do we restore our own soul? How do we care for our soul?
I want to share with you a bad approach that Jesus has shown me I often have in regards to caring for my soul and then two ways He’s showing me to become better at caring for my soul. My bad approach is this. Because the greatest enemy of my soul is sin I tend work very hard and focus very intensely on not sinning. My focus becomes sinning less. But what Jesus is showing me and reminding me of over and over again is that all that approach does is cause me to focus on sin. It gets me focused on the very thing I need to eliminate which only gives that sinful inclination more and more power. It becomes like a song that gets stuck in your head that you just can’t quit singing. If you just tell yourself to stop singing the song you are thinking more and more about the song and it gets rooted deeper and deeper in your mind. How do you escape? You focus your mind on something else, on something different, on something better!
That is exactly what Jesus is teaching me is one of the keys to caring for my soul. I need to begin focusing on something better than the sin I’m trying to eliminate from my life. I can’t stop by telling myself to stop sinning. That just keeps me focused on the sin and gives it more power. Instead, I have to refocus on my mind on something better. Specifically, I have to refocus my mind on God! I have to intentionally practice His presence. I can’t just eliminate the bad. In fact, I eliminate the bad by focusing on something better!
How do we do that? How do we refocus our minds on God? How do we care for our souls in this way? Well, here are a couple of ways from the Bible that John Ortberg mentions in his book. The first is from Psalm 16:8 which says,
“I have set the Lord always before me.” Psalm 16:8
The second is from 2 Corinthians 10:5,
“…we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5
Both of these verse talk about the soul’s need to be very closely connected with God. However, what they both reveal is that this isn’t an involuntary connection. It’s not like breathing. The words, “set” and “take captive” are active verbs. They reveal that we are soul keepers. That is a role and responsibility that God has given us.
So, today set the Lord before you. How do you do that? You can begin just by acknowledging the Lord’s presence with you. We tend to think about that only in the big moments. Start in the small moments. There are 86,400 seconds in a day. Those seconds are filled with normal activity. Don’t just talk to God in the big moments of your day because if you do you will have spent very little time aware of his presence. Most of our moments are filled with the normal things of life. So, intentionally set Him before you. Still have your dedicated time with Him but talk to Him moment by moment during your day. Imagine him walking with you and sitting with you. Set him before you constantly. You can just talk to him and say things like, “Jesus, thank you for being with me right now.” You could say, “Jesus, I know I’m in you and I know you are in me.” You could say, “Jesus, I’m doing these dishes for you and for my family. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve you. I love you thank for loving me.”
Second, do something the animals can’t do. Think about your thinking. Evaluate your thoughts. When thoughts comes into your mind take them captive. Talk to yourself about your self talk! When a thought is not of God, talk to Jesus about it. Say, “Jesus, that’s not of you.” Then, think his thoughts. Think about his word. Replace the bad thought with a good thought or acknowledge the good thought of being of Him. If you have a lustful thought or a angry thought or an insecure thought, take that thought captive to Christ. But don’t focus on the bad thing, focus on something better. If you are thinking a judgmental thought about another person, instead, say to Jesus, “Jesus I think your for _____________. I pray for them. I ask you to bless them. Thanks for this opportunity to be kind to them and to show them your love. Then treat them as Jesus would.
These are two ways that we can care for our souls. They may not seem to make a big difference right away but if we do them over and over again, day after day, over time the condition of our souls will be restored by God. It will be like moving from a big city to a small rural town. The lungs don’t recover on the first day but through constant exposure to clean air they eventually clear out and become healthy again. They are restored to a healthier condition.
Let’s breath that clean air together! Let’s make the move. Let’s clear our and clean out and restore our souls!