Take care of your soul

Published 9:18 pm Friday, December 15, 2017

By Dr. Thurman R. Hayes Jr.

There’s a fable about an Alpine village that was positioned near a beautiful mountain stream. The stream was not only lovely, but provided crystal clear drinking water.

High above the town in the Alps lived the “keeper of the springs.” His job was to tend to the springs that fed the stream. He diligently removed any debris or trash that could possibly impact the stream. One day, the town council decided to cut costs, and eliminated the job of “keeper of the springs.”

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After a while, slight changes began to occur. The stream lost its sparkle. People noticed that the taste of the water was not quite the same. More time passed. People began to get sick. Now it wasn’t just a matter of beauty, but survival. The town council decided they could afford the keeper of the springs after all.

As John Ortberg puts it so well in his excellent book, “Soul Keeping,” “That stream is your soul … and you are the keeper.”

What this means is that each of us has the responsibility of tending to the health of our own souls. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”

Before anything else, you must take care of your soul, your inner life, your heart. If it is unhealthy, that disorder will flow out into the rest of life. Conversely, if it is filled with God’s Spirit, it will flow out with “streams of living water” (John 7:38).

I would commend John Ortberg’s “Soul Keeping” to you. It is filled with wisdom about taking care of your soul. Here are some takeaways and insights I got from the book:

  • Do not assume that because things are going well in your outer world — your career, your finances, etc. — that things are healthy in your inner world. Your outer world can be advancing at the same time your soul is shriveling. You must take care of your inner world. Take care of those springs.
  • Real happiness and peace in your soul is not dependent on external circumstances going right.
  • Although blocking out some time to be with God each day, reading Scripture and praying, is super important, it does not guarantee spiritual health. We have to guard our hearts constantly, not just during our “quiet times.”
  • This means learning to live a “with God” life. The “with God” life means a life that is trusting Jesus moment by moment. It means we are constantly mindful that we are doing life with Him. It takes time to learn this, but imagine how it would transform your life if you did it with Jesus.

Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

During these weeks of Advent, as we approach Christmas, work on your soul. You might want to secure a copy of “Soul Keeping.” In fact, it would make a wonderful Christmas gift. Let’s draw near to Jesus during this season.

Dr. Thurman R. Hayes Jr. is senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Suffolk. Follow him on Twitter at @ThurmanHayesJr.