About time. That’s the first thought. About time. What?
Here: about time the question, “What feeds my soul?” gets answered. No one’s ever asked that of me. After a few years of ministry. Learning that righteousness is the power to live, realizing that being made in the image of God is authorized to represent God, knowing that Shalom [my favorite Hebrew word] means well-being in the soul not the absence of war or conflict.
Certainly life happens. Even the graphic cloning.
Before I share such powerful and poignant essence of feeding the soul from Tom Ehrich, I need to share about a friend, dearest in the world, with whom I shared ministry in Louisiana, circa 1997-2005. He’s Jim Hightower, an ordained minister and therapist. He was my associate conference minister, helping me cover the churches and clergy spread throughout Louisiana. Even though Katrina happened after my serving as conference minister for Texas, Louisiana and the Back Bay Mission in Biloxi, Mississippi, Jim and I were in constant contact, seeing how I could help from Seattle, serving another conference ministry.
We asked Jim to be the keynote speaker so we could raise awareness of how mission to others could happen. He ended—and this is the whole truth, nothing but the truth, he sang…such a beautiful voice. The song, a song I had never heard before. Guess my theological and church journey hadn’t been in a church that sang it. It’s called “It Is Well With My Soul.” You all probably know it, many by heart. But, I was so inspired, I now include it when doing pulpit supply. Tom Ehrich includes it in his closing affirmation about feeding the soul. I hope. With fervency. I ask. That you read him now…and answer your own question…how is it with your soul? Not your anything else. Only Your SOUL:
From Tom this morning:
June 20, 2017
“Hot town, summer in the city”
By Tom Ehrich
Jesus said, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10.28)
NEW YORK CITY — Hot days in Manhattan are enervating. When the temperature reaches 95, every step is one too many. My plan for a lively walk through my beloved Upper West Side becomes lunch five blocks away on 38th Street, then back to working indoors.
It doesn’t help that I am nursing an insect bite from cleaning the pool filter on Sunday. By the time I have started downtown to my son’s house, I am doing well to put one foot before another. Somewhere in the 20s, a street vendor curses me for being a “zombie” — that is, for not pausing at his display of incense sticks — but that’s about how I feel.
Dinner with family is a subdued affair. I just want to sleep. Thanks to the grace of family, that is exactly what I do.
None of this is alarming yet. Hot days happen. Manhattan sidewalks are always brutal in summer. I can’t imagine that an insect bite that seems to be getting better could be sapping my energy. So I press on into a day filled with appointments and, eventually, seven miles of walking.
(Spoiler alert: I am writing this on a Tuesday. On Thursday I consult a physician and learn that I have contracted Lyme Disease from a tick bite. I start a course of antibiotics. On this day of writing, all I know is that I feel weary and dull.)
People always worry about physical ailments. “I don’t feel good, Mommy!” The full bloom of youth usually fades too soon, and we start tracking our weight and vitals in our 20s.
In the later years, we become more and more attentive to our physical ailments. Not only do they hurt, but they threaten our sense of future. When I felt so weary and dull yesterday, one thought was, Is this my new normal? Has my health turned some basic corner?
This is where damage to the soul can occur. I think we tend to equate physical health and soul-health. If we have a sense of well-being, then we must be right with God. If I wake up feeling chipper, then God must be smiling on me. We take good health as a sign of grace.
What we learn, perhaps after much anguish, is that the soul is fed by faith and a sense of Godly purpose. It has nothing to do with physical health. Some of the deepest words of faith were written from within suffering. I think of the grieving father who found the place where his daughters drowned. Despite “sea-billows” of sorrow, he trusted in God and sang, “It is well with my soul.”
WHEN PEACE, LIKE A RIVER, ATTENDETH MY WAY, WHEN SORROWS LIKE SEA BILLOWS ROLL; WHATEVER MY LOT, THOU HAST TAUGHT ME TO SAY, IT IS WELL, IT IS WELL, WITH MY SOUL.