Have you ever stood in a river, been on a hike, or experienced the outdoors when you felt a little nudge deep within you that said, Pay attention, I’m showing you something about YOU?
There is something powerful about creation and the works of God in this world. Yes, they are to be enjoyed and even marveled at their beauty, intricacies, brilliance, and sometimes unfathomable wonder, but because creation was made by God, I also believe it reveals God and that God can use creation to speak to us. The fancy word for this is natural theology where the heavens declare the glory of God (Psalm 19) revealing to the human heart that God is real (Romans 1:20). What amazes me more than God revealing himself through creation, is how he uses creation to nudge my own soul.
A few weeks ago, I attended the annual family fly fishing trip with the men in my wife’s family (father-in-law, brother-in-law, and multiples uncle-in-laws and cousin-in-laws) all of which are good anglers (and even better storytellers around the campfire). Camping on Penns Creek in central Pennsylvania and enjoying fishing adventures till spinner fall at dusk each day is a longstanding tradition that I have been fortunate to enjoy for almost 25 years now. This year, I witnessed a piece of Scripture that came to life from Psalm 42:
1 As the deer pants (longs for) for streams of water,
so my soul pants (longs for) for you, my God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
Literally, as I waited for the next rising fish as the sun was setting, a deer on the opposite bank from me, quietly stepped out of the woods and gently lowered its head for a drink. As God nudged, Do you see this? I knew I was to take in not only the moment, but hear God’s invitation to my heart…to my soul.
Do you know about the soul?
Soul is a word used a lot today and means many different things to many different people. Let me share what the Bible and theologians mean when they speak of the soul. The soul is the part of your that integrates all of life to form your sense of YOU. Think of the soul as a membrane that houses your heart/will, the mind, the body, and the social/relational aspects of life. The soul then, is what integrates your will (your intentions), your mind (your thoughts, feelings, value, conscious), and your body (your face, body language, and actions), and all your relationships into one single life.
The soul can be healthy (well-ordered, in harmony with God, self, people, and creation) or it can be neglected/unhealthy if unattended or poorly formed. The soul is always forming. The question is into what?
When was the last time you have recognized, evaluated, or engaged your soul?
The soul that has God at its center is a soul that finds a different kind of peace and abundance in life—regardless of circumstances.
Standing in Penns Creek watching that deer drink and thinking of Psalm 42, I sensed in a fresh way that my soul had some longings…longings for more depth and connection with God, longings to align my life (mind and body) in more healthy ways. I knew in that instant that God was wanting to be with me, shape me, to satisfy my soul. (Not too long after this quiet moment with the deer, two bald eagles attacked one another over the stream about 40 yards up from where I was crossing. This scene was amazing (and terrifying) and I wondered what that had to do with my soul…but that is a story for another day.)
On Altar Fly Fishing retreats and Legacy Adventures one of our goals is to slow people down and have them engage their soul in such a way that they begin to live a well-formed life with God and all aspects of life—heart, mind, body and in relationships with God, self, and others. Perhaps you will join us sometime and find refreshment and satisfying waters for the longings of the soul.
- Have you had moments when you felt the nudge of God? Re-engage that memory. Were you shaped in some way or did you gain more awareness to something in your life?
- Sit still for 3-4 minutes and breathe slowly to settle your mind and help you listen within. Are there longings in your soul? Do you sense God bringing awareness to things within you? Do you sense an invitation from God to simply BE with him?
This week, take time to pause and pray two simple prayers:
- God, reveal the longings of my soul and the desires of my heart.
- God, grow and refresh my soul through your presence in my life.