Monday, February 24, 2014

How is it with your soul? (Psalm 66)

SCRIPTURE: Psalm 66:1-3 (TM) – larger reading Psalm 66
All together now - applause for God! Sing songs to the tune of his glory, set glory to the rhythms of his praise. Say of God, "We've never seen anything like him!" When your enemies see you in action, they slink off like scolded dogs.

Anthony of Sourozh tells this story: A young monk goes to his spiritual father and asks how he should respond to praise and criticism. “Go to the graveyard,” said his spiritual father, “and abuse the dead.” He did so and when he came back his father asked him what the dead had done. “Nothing,” said the young monk, “they remained silent.” “Go back and praise them,” said the elder. And when his disciple had reported that the cemetery stayed as silent as before, he said, “Do the same as the dead; human judgment no longer affects them for they stand always in the sight of God.”

John Wesley asked his class meetings: “How is it with your soul?” It is a question that I have struggled with these many years. Some scholars have suggested that Wesley wouldn’t have asked such a vague question. The more I struggle the more I’ve come to the conclusion that it isn’t that vague. How does anyone respond to that question, “How is it with your soul?”

What is your standing before God? How deep is the relationship? What does God think of you? Is every cell in your body praising God? Do you desire Him more than you desire breath itself? Are you going out of your way to serve the cause of Christ? Are you ready to give a full accounting of your faithfulness? Are you more of a fan of the Kingdom than a follower of the King? Do your enemies shrink from you because of the powerful presence of the Almighty? Do you spend more time at leisure or thinking about retirement than you do about serving Christ? Do you leave a wake of grace and mercy as you go through life? Do others desire to come to know Christ because they know you?

How is it with your soul?

Not such a simple question nor should our answers be. This life we live is not some kind of cosmic spiritual game… it is for real. Wesley knew that and challenged his followers to grow in the faith that have been given to them by the Holy Father… after all we do “stand always in the sight of God.” He knows how it is our souls, but do we?

Stir with us a desire to be more than we are. Create in us a longing that will not rest until we have reached the depth of relationship that You have so long desired so that we can sing with all the saints:
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.
It is well with my soul,

it is well, it is well with my soul.

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