For a person who longs to face life courageously, with a soul that is whole, the ability to cultivate a vibrant inner life is crucial. Thieves are the problem. They press in on every side, stealing the time and breathing room necessary for soul growth. Distraction. Crisis. Tasks. The needs, wants, or demands of others. Weariness.
Sometimes the sneakiest thief of all is a secret doubt that soul wholeness is possible.
Even though I have been a Jesus follower since age thirteen, those thieves wreaked their havoc on me too. When my son had been suffering from unmanageable bipolar disorder for a couple years, I got to a place where I was tired, burdened, and yes, doubting. My habit of nurturing my soul with prayer, journaling, and Bible study had fallen away. The time it took to do those things was certainly an issue. But the bigger obstacle was my hidden question: could God mend a soul as wounded as mine?
One sleety day I went to an Ash Wednesday service. The short sermon challenged me to spend Lent “fasting from despair, feasting on hope.”(Author Unknown) When I came home, I looked at the wall-length shelf filled with years’ worth of journals, Bible studies, class notes. I asked myself if time with God had ever failed to nourish me. I took out the most recent journal, which had about 20 pages used, the rest blank and waiting. I sat down and wrote, “A long time since I have sat with pen and journal — a lifetime of heartache in the last couple of years.”
I began to read Scripture passages every morning and to write a little. Nothing magical happened. A few days later, I wrote, “The thing I must believe now is — to put it crudely — that this will work. That I really can live through pain and disappointment and grief with joy and peace by resting in God, obeying Him, and soaking in His Word. God, I ask for confirmation, although I fear it diminishes my faith.”
God came through.
There is so much more to the story. Deliverance from depression*, an awakening of joy, a deep settled peace.
But friends, what I want you to know is that God came through and healed my soul.
I know that carving out time to spend with God is a challenge. Here are some ideas:
Practical Pointers: Spending Time with God
- Set aside just a few minutes. Even this may be hard to find, so be creative and don’t wait for perfect moments. For example, you could leave for work or an errand five minutes early and sit in a parking lot.
- Keep it simple. Ideas: Read one short passage in the Bible. Write down one thing you are grateful for. Pray with honesty, even if it’s just, “I don’t know what to say, but I need you, God.” Try using a devotional.
- Try thinking “instead of,” or “before I.” When you have a few minutes to relax, do you scroll through social media? Do you turn to other hobbies, even good, healthy ones like reading, gardening, crafting, or exercising? I am NOT suggesting you give those up. But try building some soul cultivation into your relaxation. And put those practices first.
- Enter your time with God without expectations of yourself. Just rest in the quiet.
Your soul is precious. You deserve to have an inner life connected to God. Make it a priority, trust God will do beautiful work in you, and find the time.
Tending to your soul will keep fear at bay and prevent you from weakening in the face of difficult circumstances. Nourishing your inner person by spending time with God allows you to be strong and brave because of the experience of God’s love and power.
*The practice of spending time with God healed the spiritual aspects of my depression, which were significant. For the physical and emotional aspects, He also provided medication, therapy, and exercise.