I was recently confronted with a question that disturbed me. It may be one of the most important questions that I have been asked lately. It caught me off guard and made me contemplate my life, my busyness, my ministry, my purpose, and my goals. It was not a question that gets asked often. Normally, we get asked questions about how we are doing. We ask about family, finances, career, health – not bad questions, but they are about “doing” rather than “being.” The question that confronted me? How is your soul?
Jesus posed this question when he asked, “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, NIV) In our fast-paced world we exchange many things for our soul. We sacrifice our soul for career advancement, social media, activity, entertainment, and the noisiness of life. We seldom think about what our soul needs. Rarely do we care for our soul properly. We get so busy serving God that we take little time getting to know God.
That question caused me to stop and think about what is necessary to have a healthy soul. There are at least three things that are needed for your soul to be well. Certainly, there are others, but these three should be at the top of our list.
Have Coffee with God
A member of our church told me that he starts each day having coffee with God. I love that. What he meant was that he begins his day with prayer and scripture while he drinks his morning coffee. One of the most important practices for a healthy soul is connecting with God through daily prayer and scripture reading. It is essential for knowing Jesus better, spiritual growth, and surrendering your will to God’s will. Don’t get so busy “doing” that you forget that Christian living is more about “being” and “resting” than doing. I don’t know about you, but I am often tempted to spend more time “serving” Jesus than “knowing” him. God the Father draws us into soul wellness when he says, “Be still, and know that I am God.”
How are you doing with that? Are you still committed to a daily stillness and listening through prayer and scripture reading? It does not have to be long, but it does need to be regular. Are you still taking time for coffee with God before you begin the demands of the day? Or has the rat race slowly stolen your time with God and replaced it with stress, frustration, and worry?
I want to encourage you to take time each day to work on your soul and focus on Jesus. It is easy to forget, to get too busy, to feel overwhelmed by your schedule. My day always goes better when I begin it with prayer and scripture. Yours will too. When my schedule gets demanding and my to-do list grows long, I must remind myself that I am too busy NOT to pray and read scripture. It is the most important prescription for the wellness of my soul. The
prophet Jeremiah addressed this when he wrote, “This is what the Lord says: Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Jeremiah 6:16, NIV)
Be Relentlessly Thankful
Thankfulness is an essential spiritual discipline for developing a healthy soul. The Apostle Paul challenges us to “be thankful in all circumstances.” Thankfulness is a balm for the soul. It relieves stress and anxiety. It improves the attitude and adjusts our perspective on life. Start each day by thanking God for the many good things in life. But don’t stop there. Thank God in every circumstance, even the bad ones.
Many years ago, when my children were still small, I complained to my mom about how much we had to clean up after our kids. It felt like we lived inside a tornado. Things were constantly being broken or soiled. I said to her, “I get so tired of having to clean handprints off our walls.” She looked at me, as only a mother can, and said, “You better enjoy it now. There will come a day that you would give anything for some handprints on the walls.” I looked at her and thought, “That is so stupid.” But I understand now. My children are adults. She was saying that the best way to live is to be thankful, live in the moment, and enjoy the journey.
Worship Jesus Every Day
My sufficiency is not in my success, my job, my position, or my reputation. My sufficiency is in Christ alone. If I do not remind myself if this daily, then my soul grows thin and weak. I begin to live under the weight of my circumstances rather than living above them. We must remind ourselves like the psalmist, “Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him.” (Psalm 62:1, NIV)
The question that Jesus asked is just as relevant today as it was when he was on earth. Maybe more so. What would it matter if you gained everything this world offers but lost your soul in the process? It is a sobering question, but one we must ask. How is your soul?