Looking up at a maple tree with pink buds about to spring forth with new life.

The Soul Laid Bare

My spirit proclaims, “I was created for You, Oh God,” yet why do choices I make demonstrate the opposite? Is there a place in this life I can operate where my soul is at rest? Will I constantly be striving, afraid, uneasy, trying to prove something, moody, frustrated, on edge, unsettled, finicky, unable to get along with others, critical, and truth be told, not enjoying life very much? Where do these fightings and strivings come from?

I belong to Jesus – for I accepted him as my savior and received the work he did on the Cross by dying for the mankind’s sin as the perfect sacrifice. So I am what many call ” a Christian,” “saved,”  or a “follower of Jesus,” yet why do I constantly do that which I do not want to do. Such actions grieve my heart. My spirit is redeemed and I have eternal life with Christ, yet my soul rages against me.

Oh my soul, what holds you back? Oh my soul, what wounds have you endured? Oh my soul, what are you keeping hidden from times past? What disappointments, abuses, torment, and injuries (real or imagined) are you keeping locked away, as I try to be “good” and reflect Christ yet struggle every day. Each morning I rise committed to living as though I was created for God, and each day I fail, each night I repent and commit to doing better on the morrow, yet the cycle continues.

Some days I can keep my head above water as I tread feverishly, some days I even manage to swim toward the shore, but looking back over the years I struggled more often under the surface of the deep swallowed up in the abyss of self-defeat more than staying above the water line. Such wrestling made me question: Will I ever walk on water with the Lord? Will I ever reflect His image in this life? Will I ever live as though I was created for Him?

For many of us, these soul scars can surface in countless ways, often with a combination of self-effort and varied methods of sedation. Yet, those wounds remain. We can struggle for years trying to get to the bottom of our these scars trying to make ourselves whole, all to no avail. It may work for a time, but how heavy a task to try to maintain the façade of being whole when we are still carrying around so many burdens in our souls. If we continue to strive on without laying all before the Lord, we may find we are stuck in life unable to move forward or go around until we lay choose to say yes to the Lord searching and knowing our hearts.

Oh beloved, be at ease and filled with hope, for there is a place of freedom and a rest in the Lord where even our souls can be at peace in the land of the living. God alone can reveal those deep and hidden interactions and moments that we’ve pushed deep down to try and forget then moved on with life trying to be stronger and better in our own strength. He already knows it all, we are merely cooperating to release these areas that He uncovers. As He reveals, ours is to stay before the Lord and mourn/weep/repent or be comforted as He leads us out of the depths that hold us back from truly living.

Lay bare your soul before the Lord and wait upon Him to reveal those deep and hidden places that are gnawing at you knowing that He tenderly cares for you. He knit you together in your mother’s wombs and is intimately acquainted with all of your ways. As our spirit and soul are in unity, so will our bodies come into alignment for as a man thinketh so is he.

He deals with each of us in a unique way – some He renews all at once but others may take more time as He tenderly peels back the layers. He will work in those hidden place in a way that has His fingerprint upon the method and that each of us can hear and understand. For me it occurred during a time when the Lord opened forgotten memories in my waking hours and in dreams – revealing actions and situations I had long ago locked away but tried to move on with life without laying them bare before the Lord and releasing them to come away whole.

What does this new found freedom look like? You already know. It’s your heart’s desire – to live, and move, and have your being in Him. It is walking with Him daily, unhindered by the ties of the flesh or hindrances (wrong beliefs, attitudes, or effects) of the past, and living in a place where all is possible through Christ who gives you strength. Everything else is existing in a lower state than the purpose for which we were created. It is what we were created to do in this life – walk on the heights with God – for we were created by and for Him!

Psalm 42:5
“Why are you cast down, o my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”

Psalm 25:1-22

“To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me. Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame; they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous. Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long. Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old. Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O Lord! Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way. All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies. For your name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my guilt, for it is great. Who is the man who fears the Lord? Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose. His soul shall abide in well-being, and his offspring shall inherit the land. The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant. My eyes are ever toward the Lord, for he will pluck my feet out of the net. Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart are enlarged; bring me out of my distresses. Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins. Consider how many are my foes, and with what violent hatred they hate me. Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me! Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you. May integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you. Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles.”

Psalm 31:1-24

In you, O Lord, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me! Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily! Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me! For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me; you take me out of the net they have hidden for me, for you are my refuge. Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God. I hate those who pay regard to worthless idols, but I trust in the Lord. I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have known the distress of my soul, and you have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy; you have set my feet in a broad place. Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted from grief; my soul and my body also. For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away. Because of all my adversaries I have become a reproach, especially to my neighbors, and an object of dread to my acquaintances; those who see me in the street flee from me. I have been forgotten like one who is dead; I have become like a broken vessel. For I hear the whispering of many – terror on every side! – as they scheme together against me, as they plot to take my life. But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hand; rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors! Make your face shine on your servant; save me in your steadfast love! O Lord, let me not be put to shame, for I call upon you; let the wicked be put to shame; let them go silently to Sheol. Let the lying lips be mute, which speak insolently against the righteous in pride and contempt. Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind! In the cover of your presence you hide them from the plots of men; you store them in your shelter from the strife of tongues. Blessed be the Lord, for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me when I was in a besieged city. I had said in my alarm, ‘I am cut off from your sight.’ But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy when I cried to you for help. Love the Lord, all you his saints! The Lord preserves the faithful but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride. Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!”

Romans 7:15-25

“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.”

Hebrews 4:11-15

“Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.  For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”