The soul is the part of people that is not physical. It’s what makes you, you, and consists of the will, mind and body.
- The will is your intentions – the ability to make choices
- The mind is your thoughts and feelings, your values, your conscience.
- The body is your physical self: your body language and actions.
- The soul is what integrates or holds together all our parts
The soul persists after our physical bodies die. The soul is the part of us that is eternal. Knowing how your soul is doing is a little bit complicated, yet we can learn to understand our souls. Just as there are warnings when things are wrong physically in our bodies, the soul also gives indications that things are not right, but they can be more subtle and hard to recognize.
This definition is key to understanding the soul: “What is running your life at any given moment is your soul. Not external circumstances, not your thoughts, not your intentions, not even your feelings, but your soul. The soul is that aspect of your whole being that correlates, integrates, and enlivens everything going on in the various dimensions of the self. The soul is the life center of human beings.”
Whether we are aware of it or not the soul has a constant desire. This desire is for God, our creator. Especially in a crisis, we see the limits of the things we tend to put our trust in. The financial system is in disarray. People have lost jobs; our health care system is challenged. Governments are scrambling to provide solutions. As human systems fail, the desire of our souls is designed to lead us to God, who has solutions. Even, or especially, in a crisis, you can have a life transforming relationship with Jesus. This is because Jesus cares more about who are you becoming than what circumstances you are facing.
Because our souls and our inner lives are invisible, they are easy to neglect. In a crisis it is totally normal to feel anxious and more stressed and worried than normal. Your soul needs some care.
For some solutions let’s look at the Psalms. The Psalmists poured out everything to God
“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” (Psalm 63:1)
The Psalmist expresses that the soul thirsts for God. Just like we need to drink water physically, the soul must be filled by God. The soul centered in God knows peace. Psalm 23 is a great picture of this:
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,[c]
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4)
The amazing thing is that there is opportunity to grow closer to God where you are right now. Even in tough circumstances you can know deep peace (not to say you won’t be anxious or stressed, but your foundation is secure). The Apostle Paul says in Phil 4:12-13 “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Paul is at peace and content despite external circumstances. This is because his soul is secure in Jesus
So how do you center your soul on Jesus?
Speak to your soul
It might feel weird, but you can speak to your own soul. The Psalmist speaks to his own soul:
“Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.” (Psalm 42:11)
Ask: How are you doing my soul? I find when I do this, I get an answer or an impression. Knowing where your soul is at helps you to know what you need to do next.
To be healthy the soul must turn to Jesus. We have a great illustration of this with the woman at the well in John 4. “Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.[b] The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14) Jesus provides people with living water. This water quenches the desire of the soul.
Put your identity in Jesus.
The soul centered on Jesus has an eternal future. “God planted eternity in our hearts so that we would not stop seeking life beyond ourselves.” The soul centered on Jesus keeps returning to him. It’s like when you’re using google maps on your phone. When you push the little GPS button the screen re-centers on your location. The center point is Jesus and we must continually re-orientate our souls to him.
In conclusion here are a few practices for refreshing your soul:
- Read the Bible. The Holy Spirit illuminates God’s word to people and speaks as we read it. The soul craves connection with God. Read a passage like Psalm 23 and mediate on it.
- Be honest with your emotions. Seek out a trusted friend (online) and/or see a counsellor (online or via phone) and pour out your heart. Build a support system into your life and use it. Stay connected.
- Take care of the basics: Eat well, drink lots of water, get exercise, get enough sleep
- Spend intentional time with Jesus. Pray, remind yourself of his presence.
- Even in this time of physical distancing where many regular activities are cancelled, digital devices don’t allow us any time to be bored. Put down your phone, turn the TV off and spend some quality time just thinking. Grab a paper journal and write your thoughts and feelings
- Practice the spiritual disciplines of silence and solitude. “Only silence will allow us life-transforming concentration upon God.” In fact I preached on these two disciplines just a month ago. Scroll down to Feb 24, 2020 and see the blog post for that sermon.
Let this time of physical distancing be a re-orientation for your soul. Evaluate what the things in our lives mean. What is most important? When this ends, what might you want to do differently in your life? If you don’t know Jesus, maybe this is the time you need to begin a relationship with Jesus. If you want more information on beginning a relationship with Jesus click here.
God bless and may you find refreshing for your soul in Jesus!
P.S. Check out the book Soul Keeping by John Ortberg for a great soul care read.
 Soul Keeping by John Ortberg. Pg 42-43
 Soul Keeping by John Ortberg. Pg 39
 Soul Keeping by John Ortberg Pg 38
 Soul Keeping by John Ortberg Pg 112
 Dallas Willard, The Spirit of the Disciplines, pg 164