Posted on 12.27.12 by Jani Ortlund
The holidays are usually times when my heart and home are happy. But one November and December, I found myself anything but thankful. We were living in Scotland where Ray was working on his PhD at the University of Aberdeen. We had sold our home in California and nearly all our worldly possessions and moved overseas with three preschoolers. The month our fourth baby was born our investor went belly up, and we lost every penny we had ever saved or invested. We were broke and jobless, and I was scared.
At the deepest level of my soul, it wasn’t about the money. The conflict waging within me was, “How does life work? How does God see all this?” I no longer understood how my relationship with God worked. I thought that obedience equaled blessing. My part was to obey God (submit to and support my husband in his educational efforts); God’s part was to “bless” me for my obedience—and I would define what blessing looked like.
During that time when my soul was in turmoil, God brought Psalm 62:1 to me over and over again. It has become my life verse since then—seven simple words:
“My soul finds rest in God alone.” (Ps. 62:1 NIV)
My soul . . .
The human soul, our deepest inner self, is vast and profound. It has immeasurable capacities for love and delight and all the passions that make us human. The Bible talks a lot about the human soul:
“Love the Lord your God with all your soul and might.” (Deut. 6:5)
“My soul magnifies the Lord.” (Luke 1:46)
“Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour? But for this purpose I have come to this hour.” (John 12:27)
The soul is dynamic—active. It can expand and grow or shrivel and dry up. It needs nourishment and care, just as our bodies do:
“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” (Ps. 42:1–2)
“He restores my soul . . .” (Ps. 23:3)
Your soul—my soul—has great potential for fulfillment, loyalty, and happiness. But, it also has tremendous need for help, hope, and refreshment.
Finds rest . . .
As Psalm 62:1 points out, what my soul finds rest in matters deeply because it shows the inclination of my heart. What do I turn to when I am worried, tired, bored, or angry? Do I even think about God? Or do I turn to the refrigerator, telephone, TV, or Facebook?
What attracts and engages my soul? What diverts my soul from the truest and best in life?
Your soul matters. It’s the eternal part of you that God formed so that you would have the capacity to know Him.
In God alone
For that reason, our souls will only find the rest they need when we find our rest in Him.
Only God can point us to the pathway that leads to rest—His are the ancient ways forged before the foundation of the world for our rest:
“Ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it and find rest for your souls.” But they said, “We will not walk in it.” (Jer. 6:16)
Ultimately, the ancient paths point us to the only Way to attain soul rest—His name is Jesus. He has purchased our rest with God through His sinless life, death as our substitute, and victorious resurrection. By constantly remembering your redemption through the gospel and fixing your eyes on the Savior, your soul can find renewal in Him. You can have deeper intimacy that grows as you love and delight in Him more and more.
Jesus’ invitation to you is this:
“Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28)
Will you open up your heart to Him in new ways this Christmas, letting Him be the One who brings your soul rest? And, will you intentionally identify and turn from all the other “paths” you’re taking to get the rest you so desperately desire?