I was supposed to get apples at the store and come home. The sales rack was empty. So was my soul. Getting apples was an excuse to get away.
At that moment, depression had such a grip on me it felt as if my life had ground to a halt. As I started home, the sunset caught my attention. I turned the car toward the countryside and kept driving. Miles from home, I parked in a field, watching the periwinkle sky blaze with hot pink. Tall grasses swayed in the gentle breeze. A pair of geese flew beside the car window. I turned back to the sunset, stretched out in front of me like a movie screen. It looked as if God landscaped heaven in the sky. I let the silence settle in. My hand reached for my Bible, and though I don’t recommend this, I opened it at random. Whispering prayers, tears falling, I glanced down at the pages. In those holy moments, God spoke to me so clearly, pinpointing the issues that were emptying my soul.
What I’ve just described was an unintentional act of soul care. We fix our house, exercise our body, and maintain our vehicle. Why do we care for everything else before we care for our soul? We neglect our deepest need and then wonder why we lack joy and purpose for living. Like a good Father, God included helpful insights in His Word to help us care for our souls.
Our souls need rest.
Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). Farmers used to fit a wooden bar called a yoke between their oxen so the pair shared the workload. What a snapshot this is of Jesus, the King of the world, coming alongside us.
Our souls need redirection.
In Psalm 43:5, we read, “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God.”
In our culture, we prize honesty. It’s helpful to understand it’s not dishonest to redirect our soul to God. Even Jesus wrestled with His human nature. In the Garden of Gethsemane, He said, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).
Our souls need a love relationship with God.
Most of us know the Bible says to love God with all our soul (Deuteronomy 6:5, Luke 10:27). God doesn’t ask us to love Him with the deepest part of who we are, without first loving us with the deepest part of who He is.
In the Free Methodist tradition, John Wesley’s Covenant Service implies the nature of our relationship with God is similar to that of marriage. In “The Pursuit of God,” A.W. Tozer described God as “vastly wonderful, so utterly and completely delightful” that God met and overflowed “the deepest needs” of Tozer’s “total nature, mysterious and deep as that nature is.”
Paul’s meaning was similar when he said, in Philippians 4:12-13, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
I believe Paul defined what it means to have a healthy soul with these words, “complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God” (Ephesians 3:19 NLT), or what Jesus meant in John 10:10 when He said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
It takes some intentionality to care for our soul. I think that’s why my pastor, Glenn Teal, believes in creating Soul Care events for the Davison (Michigan) Free Methodist Church. He says it’s important to “remember you are responsible for tending your soul — no one else. So get out your calendar and set aside at least a half a day of solitude and silence every quarter. Get away to a park, nature center or retreat house where you can slow your pace, breathe deeply and listen to God’s still small voice.”
Tammy Bovee is a Spring Arbor University graduate, a songwriter and an author whose writing has appeared in Guideposts and other publications.
Points to Consider
- How do you care for the things that you value?
- What would it mean to reorient around caring for your soul?
- How might life be different if you started practicing soul care on a regular basis?