Tending to the Soil of our Souls

Our souls, the part of us made in His very image are to be tended to with great care.  He came to bring wholeness, freedom, and peace.  If left to being unattended, our natural desires seem to dull the light of our soul that reflect the glory he can share through our eyes and lives and definitely have an impact on the quality of the fruit of our lives.  Tending signifies something done regularly and frequently.  For our souls, tending that soil creates a beautiful environment for soul formation and growth in the very center of who we truly are, in our hearts.

There are some tools, otherwise called spiritual disciplines with some having their roots in Judaism.  As Christians, those who call his name and have chosen to be “Christ-like,” we are grafted in as God’s chosen people through our faith in His son.  Tools are for drawing near to God.

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As he resides in us, and as we desire to be like him, how much care is our soul getting, being regularly tended?

That beautiful place where he resides can be a beautiful garden so to speak where we meet with him.

 Tending to the garden of our hearts  cultivates the roots found there.

From Mark 4:16-18, we can see from Jesus’ teaching how vital are those roots!

“The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy.  But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word.” 

How important then is the quality of the soil?  For quality, it has to be tended regularly.

Some of those tools, spiritual disciplines, are meditating on His Word, the Prayer of Examen, the discipline of self-restraint, and sitting in His Presence in prayer and contemplation.  These gentle keep the soil ready for seed to be able to take root.  They also do not necessarily ensure a bountiful crop as there are other conditions needed for spiritual growth and maturity besides “doing” a spiritual discipline.  They are never a means to an end.  They are the beginning, a tool to help cultivate intimacy with God if the other conditions are in place; quality seeds, water, sunshine, and nutrients for the soul.

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The seed only matures when embraced and protected in sweet communion with the master Gardner, God, and allowing Him to water nourishment through all seasons, some which seem barren to the natural eye.  We also have to trust Him as He can use the tools to remove any debris, pebbles, or sharp rocks that would hinder growth in the soil as we reflect on Him and keep our eyes on Him, never a tool.

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The beauty is when that quality seed takes root and begins to bear fruit leading to the mystery of spiritual formation, maturation, and transformation of the soul.  The fruit bore is then to be shared!

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His abiding unconditional love is what nurtures the root!

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Psalm 139: 23-24

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

Father God, may we actively be tending the garden of our hearts, so that you, our Master Gardener can plant your seeds of grace that produce and bear the fruit of origin.  May you find our soil well nourished by allowing you to extricate any pebbles as we willingly self-examine our hearts in your Presence all the while being nurtured in your embrace to become exactly what we were created to be when you formed our very being.  In Jesus Name, Amen

 

“Look after the roots and the fruits will look after themselves.” – Father Walter Adams, C.S. Lewis’ mentor

For Reflection:  Slowly meditate on Mark 4:1-20.  What are you drawn to in this passage?  Why?

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Embracing Intimacy with God through Lent

May we see this as a season not of lack, but of embracing deepening intimacy found in unbroken authentic communion with the Father, a “renewal fast” made possible by the Incarnation, Resurrection, and indwelling Holy Spirit, in advance of the time of leading up to Easter celebration. Can the joy of the Resurrection Celebration really be thoroughly experienced without the “giving things up” in the fast? What is the spirit of Lent? Let us look back to tradition in the early church. Eastern Orthodox liturgy and theology expresses that Adam “ate apart” from God. He entered into the world of self-sufficiency and independence from God, so much so that he hid. He believed the lie that the one restricted fruit was for his own well-being had life and could then become like God instead of trusting the very words of God and embracing relationship with God. The boundary was a certain fruit upon the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Accepting that instruction, trusting God, limited the excess of human freedom. By design, Adam was to thrive in the boundary set, dependent upon God for life – for food. Was not God’s instruction an abstinence from the one fruit, not all fruit? In a sense then, did they not break the boundary, the restriction placed for well-being, a “fast” from the one fruit that provided unbroken communion with God?
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Soul, Hear the Invitation to an Unhurried Pace of Unforced Rhythms of Grace?

He want's our soul to radiate his glory wherever we are, because we are his chapel, his sanctuary, his monastery, ... his temple. He lives in us. The kingdom reign is in the soul May you hear and respond to his invitation to live life unforced, to live loved and embraced in your soul, allowing communion with him at the pace he sets. That precious place of humility and communion of the soul make obedience a delight. God is the one who sets the pace, always going before and preparing the details and opening the doors through the key of prayer and communion. Why worry soul, why not trust him? Is it not there that the unforced rhythms of grace begin to make music in the soul and the joy radiates through the face?
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Embracing an Invitation to the Desert

Receiving an invitation into the desert is one of love. From Scripture, God leads those he loves into the desert, beginning with the Hebrews and the account of Jesus. There is nothing to be feared as it's divinely orchestrated. Will it be painful? Yes, it can be, but also a transformational wrestling with testing to bring freedom. Testing brings transformational new preparation through obedience. The invitation is one of unconditional covenant love to further intimacy of trust, a place of fertile soil, of spiritual blessing ... in the desert.
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Receiving True Soul Rest

This type of rest is not found anywhere else although a nice nap, a vacation on the shore, or a spa appointment can be enjoyed. They do not touch the rest of the soul. True soul rest is found in yielding, not achieving. It's found in abiding in Him. The Greek meaning of rest here is anapausin, ἀνάπαυσιν, quiet, recreation, refreshment, intermission; by implication, recreation -- rest. It reminds me of another verse where if we will do something, something automatically seems to happen in the verb tenses; loosing one's life, one will find it (automatically) in literal interpretation from the verb tense of the Greek in Matthew 10:39.
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Encouragement for Your Time Reading the Scriptures!

I share that story to encourage you that no matter where you are on your faith journey, know that reading Scripture in whatever way speaks most to you, lectio divina, the chronological One Year Bible, listening to the animated version (I love the NLT one), memorizing Scriptures, inductive reading with study, or just reading and pondering slowly, that it is a starting point, to point to the intimacy with the Father through Jesus and the presence of the Holy Spirit. Be encouraged to read and meet God in that time, taking time to reflect and be open to what He would want to say with a journal close by to write what comes to mind so you can go return to it as a memorial stone and see His work and ways!
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The Beauty of Authenticity – Recieving God’s Nearness

God blesses integrity, genuine authenticity of heart, evident in action by what is done or restraining from what is not done. Real love, compassion, power, and living full of grace are found through humility and empowerment by the Holy Spirit. Anything resembling a false security and enabling spiritual pride has the ability to hinder soul nourishing intimacy with the Father. Instead, Jesus calls those who are called by His name to sincere holiness in thought, motivation, speech, and action. Some of the kindest acts are self-examining ones heart and withholding words that would fall off the tongue; exposing the heart, and severing relationships because of living contrary to the way one was called to humility.
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