Sometimes life comes to a screeching halt. Movement and noise suddenly cease as the weight of stillness tangibly presses in upon us. This surreal state of mind can be triggered by personal crises or it can randomly roll over us as though appearing out of nowhere. Regardless how it comes, this “place of stillness” is often a place of awakening and revelation. Here we “remember” that we are more than flesh, blood, and bones. We possess an inner life . . . a life of the soul.
Christianity teaches that the soul is an intangible quality of life within the human person. While serious theological and philosophical debates ensue over the nature, origin, and destiny of the soul, as Christians we can agree that our lives consist in more than just the physicality of our bodily existence. To speak of faith and hope is to speak of this inner life.
A healthy soul, just like a healthy body, is nurtured by thousands of daily choices. What we choose to regularly look upon, act upon, and dwell upon eventually wins our hearts. Similarly, what we stop looking at and dwelling on will cease to captivate us as it used to. This is why we must understand the cumulative impact of our choices to shape the passions of our heart. I am not suggesting a legalistic faith defined by a list of “dos and don’ts” but I am saying that we need to be honest about the impact of our choices.
Why do we expect different results for our inner life that we never would for our physical health, academic achievements, or athletic ambitions? Ongoing success always requires discipline, time, hard work, and difficult choices. But what about grace? Doesn’t God’s favor rest upon us—because of our faith in Christ—even though we didn’t earn it? Yes, but we must not confuse the biblical message of grace with a license for selfish choices and an excuse to neglect “the working out of our salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). At the end of the day our lives are shaped by actual choices and actual minutes not imagined intentions that cost us nothing.
If we yearn for a newness of life in the depths of our being, it begins with stillness. But be patient, for the place of stillness is a mirror reflecting the condition of our souls. We cannot move towards greater health if we are not first honest about our present condition. In stillness, God heals our souls and gives us a vision for its ongoing growth. Next week, we talk about stillness as a teacher of life.
What Do You Think?
Is your soul affected by a lack of minutes devoted to its health? If so, how might you reclaim some of this time?
♦ To see the video and poem this post is based on, click here.