"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." Mark 12:30
There are countless sermons about loving God with your heart and asking Him to live there. Numerous people have gone to a Bible college and learned how to love God with their mind. People train their whole lives to love God with their strength through races or maybe their job. But what does it mean to love God with your soul?
Here enters John Ortberg's new book "Soul Keeping: Caring for the Most Important Part of You" which comes out tomorrow, April 22nd. According to the publisher "The soul is NOT a theological and abstract subject. The soul is the coolest, eeriest, most mysterious, evocative, crucial, sacred, eternal, life-directing, fragile, indestructible, controversial, expensive dimension of your existence. Jesus said it's worth more than the world. You'd be an idiot not to prize it above all else. Shouldn't you get pretty clear on exactly what it is? Shouldn't you know what it runs on? Wouldn't it be worth knowing how to care for it? Two things are for sure: you have a soul and if you don't look after this one, you won't be issued a replacement. Bestselling author John Ortberg writes another classic that will help readers discover their soul and take their relationship with God to the next level."
This book does just that, it challenges your care of your soul in a non-guilt-ridden way. He compares the Parable of the Sower to be a Parable of the Soul. "The closed soul is death. The receptive soul is life." I've read that parable hundreds of times before but never looked at it that way before. Because I'm a Christian I though that I was always in the good soil category. However, I know there have been times where my soul has been hardened, sometimes by the environment I found myself in and other times by my own personal choices. There have been times where my soul has been shallow, where I've let my relationship with God only be superficial. More times then I would like to admit, my soul been cluttered, where I've had to juggle and prioritize the things in my life, sometimes putting the wrong choices before God.
But there is hope! Our soul needs to be a priority in our lives. It needs to be something that we take time to care for and tend to. "Your circumstances actually matter far less to your happiness than you think. It is my (your soul's) health that makes your life heaven or hell." I don't know about you, but I would rather my life be more heaven than hell.
Where is the center in your life? Is your center yourself? Or your kids? Or your job? Or your appearance? Or maybe it changes depending on your mood and the calendar? "The soul without a center finds its identity in externals. My temptation when my soul is not centered in God is to try to control my life." Ouch, but so so true.
Reading this book during Lent was very timely for me. Lent is a season where you can be more retrospective on the health of your soul and where your life is headed. For me it was a time to take stock in my soul, to clear out some junk, and re-center myself truly on God. There were a lot of take-aways for me from this book but one of the big ones was this: "Arrange your days so that you experience total contentment, joy and confidence in your everyday life with God...The stream is your soul. And you are the keeper."
You are the only one responsible for the health of your soul. And your soul has a bigger effect on the rest of your life than you think it does. When you start caring for your soul and lining it up with who God truly is, it will have a positive effect throughout the rest of your life.
Disclaimer: I was asked by Bible Gateway, through the Blogger Grid, to do a review of "Soul Keeping: Caring for the Most Important Part of You " by John Ortberg and given a copy of the book to do the review with. I was not paid for my review and all of these opinions are my own. To purchase your own copy, please visit Bible Gateway's store. Or to try it out for yourself you can read the first chapter for free here. To not miss a blogpost you can subscribe on the right with your email address.