When we’re teetering on the edge, facing the abyss of deep darkness, it’s a scary place. We might be tempted to take to the safety of familiarity. To understand this we need to go deeper.
Our sermon this Sunday was about the soul. The soul is referenced in the KJV 432 times in 42 different books. It seems to be an important topic.
And the LORD God formed man [of] the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.Gen 2:7 KJV
When Adam was created, God breathed life into him and he became a living soul. From birth to death our soul is in our body. When someone passes away, we hear people say, ”may God rest his soul.”
Why is our soul so important? It seems that the kind of life we live depends upon taking care of our souls. We all have a soul, but what makes a soul healthy?
We all have two lives. Our outer life is public, visible to everyone. It consists of our accomplishments and our reputations. Our inner life consists of our thoughts, hopes, dreams, fears, and wishes. Our inner life is easy to neglect because other people don’t see it. We can ignore it…it gets no ”likes”.
How can our inner lives flourish and thrive? By being connected to God – by taking care of our souls. Without our souls, we couldn’t experience peace when life is crazy.
If our soul is unhealthy, no part of our outer life will help. The soul integrates the three parts of the inner self; will, mind and body. A healthy soul causes harmony with the 3 parts. If we don’t have this connection, our focus shifts to self, not soul.
If I leave it to God, my life will be balanced. Left to myself, it will be a hot mess! The more we focus on self the less we focus on our soul.
Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water’s edge. He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said:
“Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. Ig sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched , and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other see fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, multiplying thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times.”
Then Jesus said, “Those who have ears, let them hear.” – Mark 4:1-9
When we look at this passage, we see several constants. The seed is a constant. It’s God’s desire and action to redeem souls. The sower is another constant. They scatter the seeds anywhere and everywhere. The variable in the parable is the soil. Replace the word ”soil” with ”soul” and we’ll begin to understand the parable better.
The Hardened Soul is a hardened heart. The soil in the middle east was often hard as a result of the dry climate, the traffic on the path of farmers and livestock packed in down. Any seed sown in this soil doesn’t have a chance of thriving.
We can relate this to the hardened heart. These are souls that have been hurt or disappointed. They become disappointed, cynical or bitter and suspicious. the world is a place where hardened souls go unexamined. People who have been hurt, hurt people.
What can we do to help this hardened soul? The hardened soul is fearful of rejection, loss, or being hurt. When we make sacrifices to reach out to the broken we can start to break out that hardened soil. This is how souls can be saved. Is doesn’t happen all at once, but little by little they can begin to trust. As the soil is broken up the seed becomes stronger and can grow.
The shallow soul is seed that has fallen among the rocks. It’s a thin layer of soil with rocks underneath. The seed grows quickly, but the root isn’t able to take hold and the first gust of wind that comes along will cause the seed to shrivel up. This is how the world wants our souls to be- shallow, superficial where there is no depth.
For much of our lives we live in the shallows. But something happens that causes our world to crumble. A crisis, a death and we get a glimpse of that depth that I was talking about earlier. The deepest part of you is your soul. A deep soul will help to maneuver this world. The depth helps us connect with God. He will guide you as you go deeper.
In the shallows, when we get scared, we can put our feet on the ground. But in the abyss we experience life. We venture out of our safety zone.
Some of the best decisions I have made in life have been when I have stepped out in faith. Becoming a part of our praise band by learning to play the bass guitar was a way that I could help out our worship leader at a time when most of our band had left our church. I thought at the time that was a big step, but I knew there were people to help me along the way. I can’t even count the times that I’ve taken on new responsibilities within the praise team. Things that were completely out of the realm of possibilities, I thought. God has a way of nudging you in the direction he wants you to go. It’s scary sometimes. Like the first time I was asked to lead worship by myself. This would have seemed impossible at one time, but trusting in God to provide whatever I needed helped me say yes. Having the confidence of the pastor and congregation that I could do this helped a lot. It got easier each week. As God helped me, I’d reach out a little more by trying faster songs, stretching my skills to be able to do what at one time I just knew I couldn’t do it on my own.
Don’t let the cluttered soil keep you from going deeper. The weeds are the problem. Those are the worries of life, the deceitfulness of wealth, and the desire for the other things that choke out the soul. Satan will do what he can to trip you up. If he can’t make you sin, he’ll keep you busy.
Then there’s the ready soul. It hasn’t allowed doubt or unforgiveness to trample it. It won’t settle for the easy way out. Instant gratification doesn’t always gives us what we need. Go deeper. Read the Word on your own. Make small sacrifices of your time to spend time in prayer, cultivate new relationships.
When the Word of God has the most important place in your life, the other voices that whisper to you get choked out.
You are a soul made by God, made for God, and made to need God. Take good care of it.