Jesus was soulful man. He was in touch with his deepest emotions and reactions to life. Just before his death, Jesus he became deeply troubled. We read in John 12:27, “Now my soul is deeply troubled.” The same word is used to describe Jesus’ reaction at the tomb of his good friend Lazarus, “Deep anger welled up within him and he was deeply troubled” (John 11:13). Here we have a snap shot of the soulfulness of Jesus. He was in touch with and able to express what was deeply troubling him in his soul. The supreme example of Jesus being in touch with his soul is during his prayer in the garden, “And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” (Luke 22:44). Imagine what Jesus must have felt and said during this prayer.
My burden in this blog is to exhort men to pay attention to the life of their soul; to become a more soulful men. Why? Because the soul is the deepest part of you; the real you, not your idealized self or who others think you are. But John Ortberg reminds us that the soul is shy. It waits to be heard. We easily neglect or even deny the life of the soul. “I do not lie on the surface, If you look and listen patiently, you will know. I speak through you confusion, through your wanting, through you hurt.” (Ortberg). The Psalmist had learned to pay careful attention to his soul. “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning…” (Ps 131:2).
Because our soul runs our life, soulfulness becomes essential. Dallas Willard reminds us, “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 the aspect of your whole being that correlates, integrates and enlivens everything going on in the various dimensions to the self. The soul is the life center of human beings.” An unhealthy soul is the soul that experiences dis-integration from neglect. “The blizzard of the world.” writes Leonard Cohen, “has crossed the threshold, and it has overturned the order of the soul” The cultural mandate for psychological health in our culture is to focus solely on the self. But self is soul minus God, with little or no reference to God.
To lose our soul is to no longer have a healthy center that organizes and guides our life. If a man spends all his energy, time and resources on his outward life and forgets or denies his soul, he will lose his soul. “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt 16:25). This involves more then having the right belief in order to escape the world one day and go to heaven. The lose of soul points to the depths of the human condition. Men, my exhortation is to pay attention to your soul life, that which is below the surface. Don’ t run from, deny, or neglect your soul life. Be still, listen and pay attention to what your soul is saying to you.