But Bob has needs.
He has terrible anxiety leaving his house. And I quote, “I get weird. I get dizzy spells, nausea, cold sweats/hot sweats, fever blisters, involuntary trembling, blurred vision, dead hands, numb lips, fingernail sensitivity, pelvic discomfort, difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing... What if my heart stops beating? What if I’m looking for a bathroom and I can’t find one and my bladder explodes?” Yes, Bob has needs. And yet in this analogy.
Your soul is Bob; and you are Richard Dreyfuss.*
[*Stolen from the book by John Ortberg, Soul Keeping.]
It is the nature of the soul to need.
Thomas Aquinas wrote that the neediness of our souls is what points us to God. For we are limited creatures, virtually in every way; in our intelligence, our strength, our energy, our morality. But as Kent Dunnington puts it,
“We are limited in every way but one: we have unlimited desire.”
We always want more: more time, more wisdom, more beauty, more chocolate, more Netflix. This is the soul crying out. In a sense, we never have enough. And yet the truth is that the soul’s infinite capacity to desire is the mirror image of God’s infinite capacity to give.
The unlimited neediness of the soul matches the unlimited grace of God.
Which is great for those of us who are afraid of our need. That somehow it is too much, shameful, or despicable. Afraid that we may be overwhelmed by the abyss of our need. But God’s grace is boundless. And surely, if God’s grace is enough for Bob, it is enough for us.
So the soul is needy. The soul desires. What the soul truly desires is God.
We may try to fill that need with other things. Which is in fact at the root of our sin, our idolatry, or what we would call addiction. This is simply the soul meeting its need with anything that disrupts our communion with God.
And so while we may try to fill that need with other things, the soul will never be satisfied without God. The psalmist speaks of this in Psalm 84, “My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.”
The soul needs to be with God.
And throughout the Scriptures, we see that the soul was designed to desire, to search, to thirst for God. Our souls thirst for God as parched land thirsts for water. Our souls desire to be with God, to be seen and to be known and to be held. Our souls are clingy the Psalmists say. Our souls cling to God. Our souls wait for God. Our souls stalk God (like Bob). For we are meant to live in the very presence of God.
Our souls will never find rest until they rest in God.
And this is the way we are created. To be in abiding communion with God even as Adam and Eve walked with God in the cool of the day.
But I don't have to tell you that modern life today is a hostile environment for the soul. There is no time for rest, let alone resting in God. And yet our souls are hungry. Our souls are weary.
A Beautiful Invitation
Jesus said this, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” [Matthew 11:28-30 MSG]
This is such a beautiful invitation from Jesus to us. That we could come to him and recover our lives and learn the unforced rhythms of grace.
Join us this Sunday as we continue our conversation about Soulful Living and examine how to practice the presence of God in our everyday, chaotic lives, learning from Brother Lawrence, Saint Ignatius and many mystics and monastics who have gone before us.
For our souls need. Our souls need God. And our souls need rest.In fact, they crave it. The soul knows only borrowed strength. The soul is meant to rest in God like a tree rests in the soil, like a branch rests in the vine.
May you answer this beautiful invitation of Jesus to come and find rest.
by Jessica Ketola