Psalm 37:37-38 (the message)
Keep your eye on the healthy soul,
scrutinize the straight life;
There’s a future
in strenuous wholeness.
But the willful will soon be discarded;
insolent souls are on a dead-end street.
This scripture caught my attention recently as it was referenced in one of the devotions I read. I keep coming back to it. The words healthy soul and strenuous wholeness keep touching my heart.
When I think about my soul, I think about my mind, will and emotions. I sense this encouragement to keep my eyes on having a healthy mind (the way I think), will (choices I make) and emotions. Sounds nice and spiritual, right?
But you know what? Most of the time we don’t see the unhealthy aspects of our lives until the symptoms of our soul-sickness are raging. We like to sweep things under a rug. Sometimes we even fool ourselves into believing our passivity in dealing with issues is forgiveness and grace when really we are simply confused and afraid.
In the short verses above I find a deep well of wisdom and encouragement. God is telling us there is a future in strenuous wholeness but that the willful will be discarded. Insolent souls are on a dead-end street. I don’t want to be willful in God’s eyes. I don’t want to live in such a way I refuse to break. Refuse to hear, see and deal with the things in my life that are unhealthy. I want a future. The one God has carved out for me.
Here’s the clincher: wholeness, healthy soul living, is strenuous work. When we trust Jesus as our Savior, our spirit is born-again. Made alive in Christ. We are accepted and cloaked in the righteousness of Jesus. No question. Yet our souls (mind, will and emotions) have been set in patterns of thinking, perceiving and feeling from our experiences in life. Those patterns do not disappear when we come to Jesus. I know. I wish, Heavens do I, that they did. But somehow I suspect it is in the process of healing and becoming healthy in our souls that we experience Jesus in ways we never would otherwise. Even as I write that part of me thinks, ugh. Keeping your eye on the healthy soul can become tiring. Doing the work of seeing, facing and dealing with issues in our lives can feel so heavy…weighty…downright hard. Somewhere in all of it, however, there is a glimmer of hope. As unlikely as it might sound, the weight of striving for healthy soul living is meant to break us. In the best of ways. The weight of all we can’t change in our own strength…the burden of these patterns we have developed over a lifetime…these holes in our souls we can’t seem to keep filled…they bring on a helplessness, sometimes a near hopelessness, that in time can become so heavy we finally let go of our willful insolence and break before Creator. Trust Him with our most secret fears and vulnerabilities. Uncover ourselves. Let Him lead us through it.
So often I write to encourage that striving is not needed. And it is true…we need not strive for acceptance with God. His grace is enough through Jesus. But soul wholeness is a strenuous process because to lay hold of healing and freedom we have to make choices that are not easy. It can be messy. Inconvenient even. We have to nail down the rugs so nothing else gets swept under. We have to take our hands off of other people’s lives and stop controlling. Take a deep breath and open our eyes. Be willing to hear and see what Jesus is telling us. Deal with ourselves and others. Be willing to do the work, press on and strain toward healing.
Be willing to break.