How many current uses of the word ‘soul’ can you think of? ‘Poor soul’, ‘soul mate’, ‘soul food, ‘soul searching’, ‘from the depths of my soul!’ ‘number of souls aboard this ship’, ‘soul music’, etc. Irrespective of our beliefs, it’s a word we use to describe our human identity and ‘inside world’, which could include: character, body, mind, will, heart, spirit, thought, attitude, choice, feelings, etc.
Homer Simpson sold his soul to the devil for a measly donut to satisfy his craving and hunger. In contrast Jesus resisted temptations to deny his identity as The Son of God and said ‘No’ to: turning rocks into buns, swallow diving from a skyscraper, and bypassing crucifixion for early retirement far from Jerusalem.
In John Ortberg’s book ‘Soul Keeper’, he illustrates the vital importance of feeding and looking after your inner world. He suggests “The World has replaced the word soul with the word self …the more we focus on our selves, the more we neglect our souls.” Thus, by living our lives ‘out there’ with busyness, performance, and hyperactivity, chasing after material goods, richer lifestyles, kudos among peers and neighbours, and scaling social and career ladders, we easily fail to hear our inner voice (soul) telling us to slow down and listen to our body, heart, mind, and the ‘still small voice of God’. “Then sings my self, my Saviour God to Thee…” lacks something, doesn’t it?
“What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet lose their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” (Matthew 16:26 / NIV) Willard helps Ortberg to see that Jesus is not giving a ‘destination’ for the soul here (heaven or hell), rather a ‘diagnosis’. The neglect of our soul leads to a lostness and lack of purpose in life. So, when life’s storms come and ‘it hits the proverbial fan’ we lose our way because our identity is invested in and tied up in the exterior rather than the interior world of ‘soul and spirit’. Like the builder who pitched his house on sand, all we work for is swept away.
I challenge you and myself to pay more attention to our ‘soul identity’. Underneath it all, who are you, and who are you becoming? A daughter / son of The One True King? How are you guarding, feeding, exercising and stretching this inner world to make room to receive and channel more of God’s life and love? In contrast to a ‘soul-fool’ life, I pray that we may all open up our lives to God’s Love, which will overflow our lives with intimacy, purpose, significance & blessing to others, Soulful to overflowing with hope, health & healing!
For those of you able to access Youtube, here’s a music video from Matt West (Hello, my name is) to encourage you: