The Puritans have an expression they ask each other - “How is it with your soul?” It’s a question I ask people often.
How’s your soul?
The average American soul is weary, frustrated, anxious, angry. Even Christians can experience the same - an inability to consistently experience the peace, joy and hope promised through the Holy Spirit in Scripture. A primary reason for this is something I call the burden of caring. A cultural obligation to make everything important.
COVID and the resulting economic challenges stemming from our reaction to it. Election season. Riots and cultural upheaval. In Sonoma County, we’re in fire season. All these combine to promote a heightened state of anxiety towards the seemingly never ending stream of conflict and ill news. Not only that, a failed concept called “compelled speech” has reared it’s ugly head. It’s not enough to care about everything culture says is important, you MUST speak out! If you don’t, you’re part of the problem. No wonder we’re so overwhelmed and on edge!
The reality is humans have a mental, emotional and spiritual capacity.
There’s only so much of ourselves to go around, and once we reach capacity, we become emotionally, mentally and spiritually diluted. For Christians, reaching our capacity means losing ability to give and receive the virtue of the Holy Spirit. We become unable to hear from God clearly, to feel His presence, and to accomplish the work of ministry He’s called us to the people around us.
Thankfully, Jesus gives us the answer to the overwhelmed soul:
[S]eek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. - Matthew 6:33 NKJV
Jesus’ message to His Church is simple: Seek Me first. Focus the first and best of your mental, emotional and spiritual energy on Me. Our souls require sufficient time attending to the presence of God - hearing His voice, growing more familiar with His presence, worshiping Him with our church family - in order to properly experience God’s’s promise of abundant life and to live in a way that draws people to Jesus.
Christian, you were not called by Christ to have culture set your priorities - to devote yourself to the topics and in the way culture says you should. Your friends, neighbors, family don’t need one more opinionated, maxed out, blustery, on-edge person - they need someone who has been in the presence of God. Who’s priorities flow from the well of the Holy Spirit, not the news cycle or social media feed.
TAKE A MINUTE TO PONDER:
How’s my soul? Is it bubbling up and overflowing with the life-giving Spirit of God? Or is it filled to the brim with cultural cares and the tyranny of the urgent?
What habit or urgent pattern do you need to lay down today in order to be more attentive to the Holy Spirit and seek first God’s Kingdom?
- One common pattern I see is a habitual scanning of social media which gives the illusion of urgency and creates ideas about what’s important or what “everyone is talking about. Replacing time on social media with focused time in the Scripture is an excellent way to let God’s priorities become ours.
Where can I actively start seeking first the Kingdom of God with my time, and my mental and emotional energy?
Have you prepared a place to meet with God? Do you have a time mapped out each day where you’re alone, quiet and unhurried, and can be in God’s presence? It’s possible for everyone, but it takes a plan.
- Are you approaching your church worship times with intentionality? Wether you’re meeting in person or online, the process of preparing your soul, adopting a learning posture, taking notes, etc., have massive impact on how you worship.
Lord, I want to live from the overflow of the Spirit. I want my soul to rest in your perfect peace. I want to be marked by joy in the midst of cultural chaos. I want to experience your abundance, and for my friends, family, neighbors and co-workers to be drawn to the difference Your Spirit makes in me. Please help me unhitch my mental, emotional and spiritual energy from what culture says is urgent, and place it securely in you first. In Jesus’ Name, amen.
For more on reorienting your soul with God,, check out Pastor Nick's message, "Peace of the CIty" from our Understanding the Times series.