I have been thinking about my sould. I would like to share some of my thoughts by way of this personal and corporate meditation.
“The Lord God formed man of the dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” God’s breath made and makes the difference. You and I breathe because God has given us breath. No breath, no life. But consider with me the emphasis that the breath of God is also described as bringing life to the soul. I suggest there is life, and then there is “soul life,” the life God himself intends for you and me. (Genesis 2:7)
The Psalmist cries out, “No one cares for my soul…Bring my soul out of prison…The enemy has persecuted my soul…My soul longs for Thee, as a parched land.” (Psalms 142 and 143). The Psalmist obviously lives and, indeed, breathes, but his soul is in danger, is captive and is barren. He cries out to God for “soul life.” “As the deer pants after the water brooks, so my soul pants for Thee, O God!” (Psalm 42)
It is God, the Creator and Good Shepherd, who is the One (the only One) who can “restore my soul” (Psalm 23) in its depletion, thirst, emptiness and futile wandering.
To one who is thus restored, there is “soul life,” and then comes the soul’s prayer of adoration and gratitude. “Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits…pardon, healing, redemption, mercy, compassion, satisfaction, renewal.” (Psalm 103)
Jesus presses home to us the eternal importance of “soul life” by linking it to Himself. “Whoever wishes to save his life shall losse it; but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s shall save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:35-37)
And as always, Jesus does not simply speak what is true, but lives it out. In the stress and tension of His impending crucifixion, He speaks with total and profound transparency. “Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? (No) but for this purpose I came to this hour. ‘Father, glorify Thy name.’” (John 12:27-28)
So I ask myself some questions: How valuable is your soul and mine? What does my life and lifestyle say about the value I place on the soul and “soul life”? Am I comforted, encouraged and empowered knowing Jesus understands my soul struggles, faced them Himself and will see me through? And finally, in light of all this, how am I to live today?
“Father, glorify Thy name.”
Gary Kopsa is chaplain at Volunteers of America Northern Rockies.