When you begin to take the time to unwrinkle your soul you find yourself in a war. As your spirit begins to settle and the Holy Spirit begins to bring supernatural peace to your soul, your flesh will rise up and fight everything that you are experiencing with the goal of shutting you down. If your flesh succeeds then your soul remains wrinkled and you continue in that deep hole feeling frustrated, disappointed, cynical, annoyed, and tired. (see yesterday’s blog – Part One)
Your flesh will begin to speak loudly … time to watch the news and catch up on what is happening in your world. You ought to go and find some cookies to munch on. You know you are missing the next instalment of your favourite sitcom. Some agitated place in me starts clamouring for relief. Even as you are seeing and feeling your soul unwrinkle and you are allowing your thoughts and feelings to untangle as you begin to experience peace and even God’s presence … desire starts jockeying for attention. I think there is some ice cream in the freezer.
It feels like two kingdoms are vying for your soul at this point. The flesh is offering instant relief. Nature is offering long-term restoration. And the two are seriously leagues apart.
Relief is momentary; Ir’s checking out, numbing, sedating yourself. Television is relief. Eating a bag of cookies (I’m guilty) is relief. Alcohol is relief. Coffee can also be a relief. And let’s be honest here — relief is what we reach for because it’s immediate and usually within our grasp. Most of us turn there, when what we really need is restoration. Nature heals; nature restores.
Think of sitting on the beach watching the waves roll in at sunset and compare it to turning on the tube and vegging (bing watching) the reruns of Star Trek, The Next Generation. The experiences could not be further apart. Remember how you feel sitting by a small brook, listening to its little musical songs, and contrast that to an hour on your favourite video game. Video games offer relief; nature offers restoration.
This is what David was trying to put words to when he reported finding God in green meadows and beside quiet waters, emerging with a refreshed soul. Or as another translation has it, “He renews my strength” (Psalm 23:3 NLT). The world we live in fries the soul on a daily basis, fries it with a vengeance (it feels vengeful). We need the immersion David speaks of.
I was recently sitting out back in front of a roaring fire in my new fire pit (a summer project). I was unwrinkling my soul after an especially hectic and cluttered day. I was choosing to ignore the chorus of vendors trying to get me to leave in search of some relief (Your favourite show is on; maybe a strong Starbucks coffee would go good right now… ) I knew that if I left all I would find was relief and some sugar and caffeine. My soul would be no better off because of it. So I chose to let the evening and the fire in the fire pit continue to have its healing ministry. Remember, God doesn’t like to shout. His invitations are much more gentle.
Sunset was over; night had come suddenly into focus. Still I sat there. The night chill could be felt. It felt good. Over in the distance I could hear the birds settling in for the night in my neighbours tree. And, I could feel my soul settling down even more; the feeling was like unwrinkling or disentangling on a soul level, as your body does in a hot tub. Thanks for the gift of nature and this fall evening in front of the fire, I said, I receive it into my soul.
Darkness, crickets, coolness, quiet, and the crackle of the fire as it was dying down for the night. I felt like I had been through detox. When I fell into bed that night, it was as if the hellish day had never even happened. Restoration. So much better than mere relief.