We don’t hear much about the soul these days. Why is that? As a boy I learned the bedtime prayer that asked God to keep my soul during the night and that, “…should I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.” Whatever happened to the soul?
We read in Genesis 2:7 that Yahweh God formed man from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and that “man became a living soul.” Before we read of the heart or the mind we read of the soul. I have known folks who get wrapped up in distinctions between the heart and mind and soul and insist on lines of demarcation – I think this often leads to unhealthy introspection and even Gnosticism – the Biblical approach to who we are is holistic – after all, we were made in the image of God. Within a holistic context we can allow the Holy Spirit to work in our hearts and minds…and souls.
This pilgrimage of life is a pilgrimage, in Christ, of restoration – our Good Shepherd is restoring our souls. Our souls have been soiled, corrupted, sickened, and darkened. Jesus comes as our Good Shepherd to make us lie down in green pastures, to lead us beside still waters, to restore our soul (Psalm 23). His Law, His Word, restores our soul (Psalm 19) as we walk in His paths of righteousness.
Only Jesus Christ can perform this restoration, we can’t do it – we can cooperate in the process as we behold Him, but even our cooperation is enabled and animated by His grace and the Holy Spirit.
I am told that the old Methodists used to ask one another, “Brother (or sister), how is your soul?” Not a bad question to ask. It’s a better question than, “How is your day going?” I may have good days and bad days, but let’s hope that whether my days are good or bad that my soul is experiencing the restoration of Jesus Christ.
While Psalm 23 has movement in it, it begins with rest; rest in green pastures and rest beside still waters. Jesus tells those who are weary and bearing burdens to come to Him for rest (Matthew 11:28-30) and that “you will find rest for your souls”. The soul at rest in Jesus Christ is the soul experiencing restoration, and the soul experiencing restoration is the soul on pilgrimage, a pilgrimage that can declare, “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of Yahweh forever.”
How is your soul today?