"The most powerful weapon on earth, is the human soul on fire.”
The world we live in challenges us now more than ever to discover and embrace Soul Care. After my own health crisis and burnout, I quickly discovered that while my life had been quite full, my soul was actually quite empty. I knew God but I had a new longing to be with God. That longing for a life with God took over and I began training as a spiritual director and later as a yoga and meditation instructor. Both offer individuals an opportunity to practice being in the presence of God.
Unfortunately, we can easily be so busy planning or "doing" ministry that the needs of our own soul become distant and lost. This is true for most individuals in ministry, whatever the ministry may look like. Without a real concentrated effort on care of the soul, we can easily lose sight of our calling and face discouragement and burnout. As a spiritual director, I meet with overworked pastors, stay-at-home parents, searching students, and exhausted care givers. Something that often stands out in our listening is this, God longs for to spend more time with us, caring for more for our souls and less about what we accomplish. God longs to care for the person you were created to be, no matter the demands of your daily life.
Quite often I hear that soul care seems selfish or overrated and is the first to fall away when the demands of everyone else top our lists. But, put simply soul care is a mandatory part of being a servant of God. When your soul is on fire, you can not help but live a life with God. So, how do you kindle the fire in your soul?
Dallas Willard says, "the secret for caring for our souls is Practicing the Presence” of God. So how do we not only teach practicing presence but fully live into it? How do we ignite this fire within us and keep it burning? How do we not let the stressors and realities of every day life extinguish the flame?
Soul Care does not mean we cease from activity and withdraw from life. It means we care for the very person God created so that we can continue to be the hands and feet of Christ in this world. It means that we find greater joy in the tasks of our ministry. It means we know God even more intimately and ourselves more deeply. It means we find both our fulfillment and our rest in our Creator. It means we truly are passionate servants of God.
Is your soul on fire?
If you've known me for more than a few minutes, you likely know that in 2005 I had a stroke followed by brain surgery. When you lose function of an entire side of your body, it impacts your life...drastically. Through that story, I've been called to share, encourage, and give hope to others amidst health crisis. And, I can't help but be thankful and in awe of how God has allowed me to get back on my feet. However, I must be clear. It was no accident that I got back on my feet. It was hard work and (not surprisingly) I tried to quit more than once. There were some hard and dark times for my mind, body, and spirit. And yet, God has led me and guided me out of that darkness. Yes, my body is not perfect, I do still have limitations. But friends, NONE of our bodies are perfect. We all have limitations. And yet, I have found so much healing on my yoga mat and continue to grow in this process, surprising even myself.
I've been asked a lot lately, "can I do yoga?" The question is quickly followed with "because I'm too uncoordinated" or I'm "too fat" or I'm "too old" or I'm "too young" or I'm "too............" You fill in the blank. I keep saying "YES!" but my gaze is often met with another that still isn't sure and doesn't believe me or maybe it is themselves they don't believe. A "no" would be so much easier to believe.
Then a friend sent me this transformation that was too powerful not to share. Arthur's story is inspirinig beyond words. I don't know Arthur, I don't know his teacher, I don't know any more to this story than the 9 minutes I'm told in this video. But, I believe that this man was transformed in more than one way. He set his mind to something he was told was impossible and he believed it was indeed possible.
Ready? Can't stand on your own? Can't touch your toes? Here you go. Take 10 minutes and grab a sturdy chair. Breathe and believe in yourself. I believe in you.
May God himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, make you holy and whole, put you together - spirit, soul, and body - and keep you fit for the coming of our Master, Jesus Christ.
Whitney R. Simpson
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Whitney R. Simpson,
Exploring Peace Ministries, LLC