So anyway....lately, God has been 'wooing' me to get closer to Him. For the past few years, I've not sought to have a CLOSE, personal, daily relationship with God. I have lots of excuses.....moving, kids, hubby starting new job, etc. I could go on and on, but there really is no valid excuse.
Last week at church, the pastor's message really hit home. He gave a list of 6 "Symptoms" that your soul may be in trouble.
The pastor talked about Samson. We all remember Samson from Sunday school, right? The dude with the long hair that God gave super strength to defeat the enemies of God's people. Samson could keep his strength as long as he didn't cut his hair. So the strange part comes when Samson is deceived by someone he loves, Delilah. She cuts his hair, and Samson loses his strength.
In the words of the pastor, "The deception isn't the most troubling part of the story. What makes this story so troubling to me is that after Samson's hair was cut and his supernatural strength was lost--he was actually unaware of what had transpired inside. In Judges Chapter 16, verse 20. It reads like this, He awoke from his sleep and thought, "I'll go out as before and shake myself free." But he did not know that the LORD had left him...
Isn't that scary? Scary that you can lose track of your soul (and what's happening with it) and not know it. Samson thought his soul was fine. He didn't even 'feel' a change. He thought he could go out as before and conquer the enemies, and have the magnificent strength that God had given him before. He thought his standing with God was intact, but he was dead wrong.
We can get so wrapped up in religion, going to church, daily life, etc., that you lose touch with God.....and not even know it.
- Lack of Presence-when we are regularly devoid of any sense of God's closeness. There is a persistent kind of hopelessness. A spiritual numbness. There's an inability to feel good about oneself (without the aid of unhealthy props).
- Lack of Participation-when we negate the importance of engaging in growth environments (environments that feed the soul). It may sound simple, but when people stop showing up in environments that feed the soul, it's an indication that the soul is at risk. This makes sense. We all know how anorexia ravages the physical body; it would stand to reason that avoiding spiritual nutrition will starve the soul.
- Inconsistent Practices- when there is a noticeable disparity between words and actions. It is when there is a kind of duplicity that becomes normal. It is when people get "okay" with there being a gap between what they say they believe and how they ACTUALLY live. A great illustration of this is when you find yourself giving advice to your friend or to a child, and even as you're saying it you realize, "I don't even do that." This could be a sign that there is a soul issue that needs to be addressed.
- Empty Pursuits- when ego satisfaction and material gain are dominant priorities. A good way to think about this might be ask yourself the question- and do so as honestly as you can-when it comes to what I really want out of life, it is more important that I am seen as "somebody" in the world's eyes as opposed to being seen as "somebody" in God's eyes. Or, it is more important that I put a smile on my friend's face than that I put a smile on God's face.
- Spirit-less Peers-when our "inner circle" is filled with people who could care less about the soul. It is hard to have perspective on your own life, maybe you can gain some clarity about what is going on by just being candid about those who are in your inner circle. Are the people who are closest to you people that care deeply about soul matters? Or is it more obviously that your primary peers and closest friends are people who rarely attend to matters of the soul?
- Unfulfilling Play-when distractions and escapism become the primary means of relief. When a person continually searches for ways to make themselves happy. It may be living on Facebook or Twitter. It may be shopping or socializing. It may be drinking or doing drugs. It may be other unhealthy habits. Any of these things, when done is excess, keeps us from nourishing our soul.
The pastor went on to say, "Cell phones are wonderful devices. You can store phone numbers and addresses on them. You can have your calendar on them. You can even have a GPS device on your phone. But think about what happens when you lose your cell phone. Panic and anxiety sets in. You search under couch cushions, in your car, your retrace your steps, doing whatever possible to find it. You'll drive back to the restaurant, maybe even speeding to get there. Anything that is on your appointment book could wait while you find this important thing in your life. Would we do the same searching if our soul was misplaced? Would we look everywhere until we found the answers?"
Just something to think about. This message really touched me, especially the part about "unfulfilling play". I'm guilty of "playing" on the computer and loafing around, then saying, "I don't have time to study God's word." I'm not trying to convert anyone or make you feel guilty. This is just something I wanted to share, because it really got me to think about where my soul stands.
I'd like to give credit to our pastor, Pieter Van Waarde for the message above. I hope you all have a fabulous week!!!