Conducting a health check on the human soul is difficult. Most of us struggle to identify this silent and unseen part of us. Yet, the human soul is the very essence of our being, the center of our will and emotions. God breathes life into our souls when we are born. He designed them to enjoy eternal relationship with Him but, because of our sinful human nature, they need regeneration before we can enter into that relationship. Don’t assume that the soul is inherently robust just because God formed it; the soul is vulnerable, easily distracted, and requires care just as a young child does. If we want to grow in spiritual maturity, we need to do regular health checks on our souls. Psalm 131 provides a helpful framework:
O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty;
Nor do I involve myself in great matters,
Or in things too difficult for me.
Surely I have composed and quieted my soul;
Like a weaned child rests against his mother,
My soul is like a weaned child within me.
O Israel, hope in the Lord
From this time forth and forever. (Psalm 131:1-3)
- The picture of the weaned child is interesting. A weaned child no longer views its mother as a source of milk; the relationship has progressed beyond basic needs. In less developed cultures, children often breastfeed for two or three years. The child in the psalm was probably old enough to walk and talk. In spite of its taste of independence, the weaned child chose to rest against its mother in a relationship of contented mutual love. They could enjoy simple communication. Does your relationship with God focus only on what He does for you? Of course, you will always be dependent on God in many ways, but are you able to enjoy Him just for who He is?
- The psalm also illustrates how we should relate to our own souls. We must learn to compose and quiet our souls in the same way that a mother picks up her weaned child and holds it close to her to soothe its crying or ease its anxiety. In other psalms, David used to speak to his soul, directing it toward faith and courage. Learn to compose your soul so that you can run enthusiastically into everything that God calls you to.
- Pride makes poor choices. Out of pride we take on too much that is too hard for us. When we are like a wise mother, we will recognize the limitations of the human soul. What is God calling you to and giving you the grace to accomplish? Do those things. Spiritual health and relationship with God are linked. Anything that distracts us from God carries a heavenly health warning.
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A very good post for me right now, John. My soul is in turmoil over something I said that my daughter misinterpreted. It was poorly written I see now. Please pray for us, and let your ministry extend to even the darkest places on earth.
Love, Beau (Alan Broadhead)
This passage of Scripture has always been a blessing to me and for many of the same reasons you have written of. As a young pastor I can remember the urge to try do the “big things for God”. I do look back now and see that that was my “pride”. I really shouldn’t place that in the past tense. I still have to battle pride…. I am also in the process of learning to be still when the busyness of life slows down – learning to be content with the reality of the presence of God. Tozer prayed, “Lord, make heaven more real to me than any earthly thing.” My eyes often dart off to the meaningless superficialities of life when the wonder of God is right before me. What is God calling me to? “Be still Mark. That is when I will do the greatest things and there will be no doubt that it is Me doing the work.”
Thanks for your openness, Mark. May the Lord continue to bless you and take you deeper with Him.