One of the most difficult things in this life is to have a mind and soul of peace. It seems that no matter how hard we try, we are always dissatisfied and restless. Our focus is pulled in so many directions that it is hard to come to a place of rest.
The desires that lurk inside us can ache as if we are in pain or be wonderfully hopeful. How we handle those longing desires, pain and hope is what healthy spirituality is all about. Augustine said, “You have made us for yourself, Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you. (St. Augustine The Confessions of St. Augustine, translated by Frank Sheed (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1943), p. 1.
At the heart, spirituality is basically about how we wrestle our desires to alignment with God’s will and to a place of peace. Even the Apostle Paul had to learn how to wrestle his way to a place of contentment. “…for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me (Philippians 4:11-13).
As Christians, we would have to admit we struggle with wanting to feel every sensation experienced by sinners, and at the same time, we want to be innocent and pure. It comes as no surprise that we feel as if life is a trying undertaking in which we feel tired and overextended. How do we enjoy the good things the Lord provides all to the glory of God and not allow our sinful desires to take us off course?
It is difficult to choose one thing, the right thing, and turn our backs on many other things.
Most of us fear that if we choose one thing, we will close off many other options. It is not easy to be a Christian and have the discipline to will one thing.
Spirituality is about how we channel our desires with the disciplines and habits we choose to live by. What we choose will lead to a greater integration or disintegration within our bodies, minds, and souls.
A healthy spirit must do two things: it has to energize us so we do not lose our vital sense of the beauty and joy of living. The opposite would be having no energy or zest for living. The second thing a healthy spirit must do is keep us integrated, so that we do not fall apart and die.
A healthy soul keeps us vibrant and energized with hope giving us a sense of who we are, where we came from, and where we are going. Spirituality is about handling the power, desires and drives that flow through us.
What is at work to keep us from having healthy souls?
We have an excessive preoccupation with work, achievement, practical concerns of life, and restlessness for drinking in as much of life as possible. This leads to lives filled with headaches, heartaches, and insomnia. Put all three of these together and we see that we rarely have time and space to be in touch with the deeper things inside and around us. This overall busyness, distraction, and restlessness are major blocks to healthy spiritual lives.
There are a couple of essential elements to having a healthy spiritual life. Private prayer and personal moral integrity even in the small things is what Jesus is looking for in our spiritual lives. In Matthew 6:5-6, Jesus instructs us to pray in secret; He calls us to have a personal and private relationship with Him. In addition, the test of having a personal relationship with Him is obedience to His commandments. John 14:21 clarifies this for us, “He who has my commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.” The anchor of the spiritual life is private prayer and personal obedience to God’s commandments. It demonstrates our commitment to our relationship with Him.
The danger of not having a personal intimacy with God and a faithful obedience to His Word can result in turning Christianity into a moral code or ideology and miss a real relationship with the living God. If we don’t take seriously having a private and personal prayer life with God, we will end up going through the motions coming up empty, angry, and feeling abandoned desiring to give up. May we be vibrantly energized with the hope of God’s Word to handle rightly the desires that flow through us.
Take some time to nourish your soul on God’s Word, reading it as a love letter to you from Jesus Christ. Drink those words into your soul and ask Him to give you a hunger and thirst for His Word that would never end, drawing you into it, revealing Himself to you, so that you see His glory and grace. May it become the fuel that ignites your relationship with Him into joy because the healthy soul finds its rest in the Lord.