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I recently started reading the book Soul Keeping by John Ortberg. In this book he sites many references to himself and wisdom over the years that he has gleaned from Dallas Willard. In the most recent chapter Dallas talks about the Soul.
The Soul is a funny thing. You are unable to see it on an x-ray and a child cannot point to it if you ask, “point to your soul”. The majority of people on this earth believe they have one, but I do not believe that people know how to tend their soul or how to keep it in check.
Dallas Willard’s illustration is that inside us, at our core, is our will: our basic ability to say yes or no to the choices around us. It helps to set us apart from a rock. And this “free will” concept helps to set us aside from the animals that run just based on instinct. Just outside the will, in order of what is our core, is the mind. The mind contains our thoughts and emotions. We have streams of emotions and thoughts all day long, except for today when I am in a food coma from Thanksgiving. But the mind is a very powerful and important force in our being. Lastly is the body. Functions of the body and our physical presence in the world is important when considering how we are formed in who we are. Our body has basic biological functions and through our mind and body we create habits, both good and bad, that we attempt to control with our will. Dallas Willard proposes that the soul is the connecting force that integrates these parts of our being. That the soul is fragile and precious. We need to be able to keep our soul well.
In the book, they go on to state that many people do not keep their soul well. In fact, sin is a destructive force ruining the unity and connection between these important parts of us: our will, mind, and body. A well soul is able to have the freedom that comes through the connection of God to alleviate this sin from the picture, again creating the integration between these features. In fact, they state that lost souls are a result of this non-connection with God and that there are a lot of lost souls on this planet.
I believe part of what they are saying is that we not only need a relationship with God, but in order to have a healthy soul we need to be able to have our will, mind, and body to be cared for as well. They make a distinction to psychology in this section noting that the psychological means currently focus a lot on the “self” and no necessarily the “soul.” The keeping of self and building up of one’s self is the recognition of your worth, strengths, and accomplishments. To the soul, who you are is not built in these things. According to Dallas Willard, the health of the soul is reached in the unity between these three elements AND in community with God’s will for our lives. God’s love and acceptance of His will through our choice helps to eliminate the sin that clogs up these integration points in how to experience ourselves.
The reason I am writing on it, is that it is a concept I had not considered before and I wanted to give it additional thought as a theory of how we need to not only be in tune with God, but in tune with our inner soul.
A song like It is Well with my Soul has new meaning with these thoughts in mind. Of course things can be well with my soul because I am okay with me. Despite my environment, means, and things around me not being what I want. Despite things like my best friend dying, things can be well with my soul, because I have not lost myself and I have not lost God.
A wandering and weary soul finds no rest. A soul at peace with itself is what God wants for us.
Pastor Andrew Fidurko