Every few years we hear another sad story about a child confined in a basement or secret room by demented adults–usually, unimaginably, their parents. The child is severely malnourished, often injured, and living in its own filth. Those stories quickly pass with the news cycle. No one follows up as the child finds its way, usually, into foster care. We can only imagine what the future holds for kids subjected to this kind of trauma.
It is an extreme example, but I think many souls are kept locked away in basements like these children. John Wesley used this diagnostic question in pastoral conversations: “Tell me, how does your soul prosper?” This sounds a bit strange and archaic to modern ears, but it is a profound question. It invites us to consider first whether we even know that we have a soul. We talk far more about our bodies and our emotions than we do about our souls. Few would want to say that they are soulless. But how many know the condition of their soul or whether it is prospering.
We neglect our souls at great peril. An undernourished and unwashed soul can become a toxic force affecting every aspect of our lives, and, sadly, the lives of those we love. We have all met people for whom the only adequate description is that they have a diseased soul. How did they get that way?
How are you caring for your soul? We can answer that question easily for our bodies. We diet and exercise and sleep and take supplements and meds to keep our bodies prospering. We know we have minds and we try to keep them sharp. But what about our souls? How are we feeding and caring for them? A neglected body will sooner or later demand our attention through the gift of pain. Souls usually suffer in silence. We only hear a muffled whimper when things are very quiet.
I encourage you to make 2022 the year of the prospering soul.