For your soul1
What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?
- Jesus from Mark 8:36
What would happen if I sold my soul? Sometimes I wonder if I would notice.
Forfeiting the soul doesn’t usually happen in a moment. Decision after decision piles up. The “urgent” and the “important-to-others” and the “crisis of the day” clamor for attention while our souls hide from the chaos and the noise.
In her 1926 work “Concerning the Inner Life” Evelyn Underhill compares the soul to a deer standing in stillness at the edge of the clearing. While we tromp around noisily, the soul stays frozen and hidden. Only when we quiet our minds and hearts will our soul step into the moonlight. To feed and nourish the soul requires a certain way of life.
Few of us try to gain the whole world. Jesus’ admonition in today’s text may not sound like it’s meant for us. We just want a little fun, a little security, a little property of our own. When we ask each other what we have planned for the night, we don’t answer: “Try to take over the world.” Maybe that would be better.
We abandon our souls for the sake of such small things. And our schemes backfire.
When we trade soul for love, our lover lose.
When we trade soul for work, we burn out.
When we trade soul for money, we never have enough.
When we trade soul for acceptance, we become imposters.
Our Lord lost his prestige as a respected teacher, allowed them to strip him of his possessions, and laid down his very life.
But he did not forfeit his soul.
The soul of Jesus – preserved in righteous purity, unforfeited – could not be crushed by death, bound by sin, or kept by the devil. With intact soul he offers acceptance, provides for deep needs, assigns kingdom work, and loves with an unending love.
As King Jesus gains the whole world, he finds and buys back our lost and forfeited souls. He returns them to us. We get a second, a third, a fourth, a seventy-seven times seventh chance to be fully human and fully alive.
Take 20 minutes to sit in silence today. Invite the Lord to help you see the state of your soul. This is a mystical exercise, but one that’s within your reach.
Imagine yourself standing on the edge of the clearing, waiting for your soul to step out into the moonlight. What words or phrases would you use to describe your soul? What words would you like to use? Ask Jesus to transform your soul, which he’s redeemed.