I’m constantly thinking about what we need, what I need, in order to give space for God’s grace to shape our lives (our souls) into their intended forms. Today, I want to offer three simple things that I believe are key to our souls being filled and formed by the Spirit of God. These are, of course, not the ONLY three elements but they are three of the most foundational. I will say that I believe "community" needs to be on this list but I also believe it requires a separate blog post for a full discussion. I want to make sure to say clearly, however, that it isn’t the activity and effort included in these three elements that brings about our transformation. The effort simply makes space – opens up room, breaks up the soil for planting – where God’s Spirit can do His best work.
- Rest: I list this first as it is often the one element that is left off the list of elements that influence our soul. We are designed to function well, mentally and emotionally, on 7-8 hours of sleep and regular times of disengagement. Not to mention the fact that when we choose to disengage from activity, we are making a statement about the importance of our activity as compared with the importance of God’s activity. Remember, in the Old Testament Sabbath was primarily an act of trust in God’s promise to provide. We avoid rest today for the opposite reason – we believe we’re in charge of everything.
- Scripture and prayer: And all God’s people said, “Duh.” It’s critical that we come back to these two cornerstone activities on a regular basis. It is the vital act of knowing the story God is telling, knowing the character and nature of God’s Kingdom, and inquiring or petitioning Him regarding the life we live in that Kingdom. I have found the times in life where I am most disconnected from my purpose in ministry or where I am close to engaging in unhealthy patterns of thought are also those where my dedication to the story (Scripture) and the conversation (prayer) are waning as well.
- Mission: All buzzwords and Christian trend-surfing aside, the mission is critical for our souls. The arteries of our souls become clogged if we are not exercising the inner work of God in the outer work of His Kingdom. I find it interesting that in Jesus’ discussion of sheep and goats (Matthew 25) many people simply see an admonition for disciples to pursue the poor and marginalized. However, the other aspect of that passage is that Jesus seems to be indicating that if we move toward the poor and marginalized we will in fact meet Him there. I have read enough literature on spiritual formation to know that a center point of formation is meeting God and if that is the case then we should be searching for Him in the midst of the mission He has set before us.
These are just a few, and my hope in putting these out there is that you’ll be encouraged to re-engage these foundational practices and rhythms for the good of your soul. Peace