The Sinking Soul

by Andy Wood on May 6, 2010

in Ability, Life Currency, LV Cycle, Protecting Your Investment, Waiting

This has been a season for sinking souls.

In California, two very dear friends are facing their second-greatest fear as their son is deployed with the Marines to Afghanistan.  They know the promises of God.  They know full-well that every other military parent or spouse has walked this same path.  But that doesn’t change the fact that the emotions are more than they bargained for.  Tossed about and beat up, their souls are sinking.

Here in Lubbock, a bright young professional had launched a successful and lucrative career when his work was upended by petty, jealous people.  He lost his job and another significant source of income.  And though he was innocent of the lies told against him, and though he has bounced back in a different setting, he still retreats to an emotional cave of isolation, as if he were totally guilty.  Broken, bewildered, and just going through the motions, his soul is sinking.

In my home state, a once-confident, faith-filled woman lives in the wake of one of the most grotesque griefs of all – the death of a dream.  Sure she had heard from the Lord about her future, and bold in her expectations of how He would order her steps, nothing has turned out as expected.  First the heartbreak.  Then the waiting.  Then more disappointment.  Now rudderless and aimless, she feels powerless to choose any direction… her soul is sinking.

However committed or expectant you or I are, none of us is immune to the sinking of the soul.

When we lose our focus, confidence, or sense of purpose,

 When we know all the facts of the gospel or God’s promises, but they don’t make much of a difference to our immediate mindset,

 When we still go through the motions, but don’t remember why,

 When vision is a thing of the past and hope seems like a quaint idea,

 Those are signs that our souls have sprung a leak.  We’re going down. 

When stress is relentless, and the heart is anchored to frozen rage,

 Or when sadness, disappointment, frustration, hurt, or loneliness feels like our only consistent companion,

That’s a pretty sure evidence of a sinking soul.

When we lose the will or power to choose,

 When we lack the courage to risk taking action,

 When we’re too exhausted to try again, or nothing seems worth fighting for,

That’s another sign that our souls are gasping for air.  They’re sinking.

If you’ve found your soul is sinking, you’re in some pretty good biblical company.  Jacob had a sinking soul.  So did Esau, his twin.  Joseph hit the pits, as did Moses and Jeremiah.  David made a songwriting career out of his sinking soul.  John the Baptist had a soul-sinking moment just before his death.  And Peter’s sinking soul was accompanied by a sinking body.

What God Does with a Sinking Soul

For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6, NLT).

If Jesus would walk across a stormy sea…

If God could cause a bush to burn without being consumed…

If He would “ride the heavens” to help… 

Or walk through the floods and the fire with His people…

If He promises to be mightily in your midst, and to rejoice over you with singing

Don’t you think He takes your sinking soul pretty seriously?

Here, specifically, are some of the ways He reaches out to catch us when we’re going down:

1.  He raises up people to pray.

Do not – ever – take this lightly.  If your soul is sinking, trust me, somebody is praying.  And the God of Heaven is the one calling them out.  And if you’re standing on some pretty firm ground right now, but can’t get someone else off your mind, take the hint!  Pray!  You don’t have to know the details.  Just call on the Lord on their behalf.

Why doesn’t the Lord just intervene?  Why does He insist on involving intercessors?  For the same reason I gave my kids Christmas shopping money and turned ‘em loose in a mall.  It was my money, but I insisted they be involved in the process of using and choosing.  In the same way, prayer is kingdom currency for getting things done, and God wants us involved in using His resources. 

2.  He sings to you.

The Lord your God is with you,

he is mighty to save.

He will take great delight in you,

he will quiet you with his love,

he will rejoice over you with singing (Zephaniah 3:17)

I learned this from my blog friend Matt.   He teaches sixth graders in a Christian school, and figured out something pretty powerful.  In the midst of their preadolescent brain-deadness, what he says often goes in one ear and out a spare hole somewhere.  But if he sings the instructions to them (and especially if he dances), they get it every time.

The Lord does the same thing.  That’s why there is a book of Psalms, and so much other poetic literature in the Bible.  It’s also why Kingdom people invest so much time and effort into music.  Worship isn’t just you singing to and praising the Lord.  It’s the Lord singing to you.  Drawing you.  Pouring light into your spirit. And at just the right time, throwing you a lifeline.

If your soul feels like it’s sinking, as best you can, pay attention.  You may not be able to meditate over heavy truth, or even remember the instructions.  But somewhere, somehow, you can hear Him singing to you.  And in the song, there is hope and strength.

3.  He redefines your past.

Remember these things, O Jacob,

And Israel, for you are My servant;

I have formed you, you are My servant,

O Israel, you will not be forgotten by Me.

 “I have wiped out your transgressions like a thick cloud

And your sins like a heavy mist.

 Return to Me, for I have redeemed you (Isaiah 44:21-22).

Sinking souls are often bound by a haunting, unforgettable past.  But the beauty of the redemption we have in the Lord Jesus – and a truth often missed by believers – is that He not only changes our destiny and circumstances.  He rewrites our past!  When God wipes out our past, He isn’t just giving Himself a case of amnesia.  He’s changing history!  Namely yours.

4.  He promises to come back again.

“If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:3).

Somewhere in our fascination with Beasts and antichrists, we’ve spent more time studying a life on earth that’s void of Christ than we have a life in eternity with Him.  And yet the early church held to a steadfast hope that Jesus is coming back, and that His return is imminent. 

Whether it is in my lifetime or not, I can cling to the promise that one day Jesus will not just come to me – He’ll come for me.  And armed with that hope, I can press against the wind one more time today.  Buoyed by that promise, I can say no to the loneliness and despair and know I am loved and remembered.

And so can you.

Be a Lighthouse

One of the most life-changing ways the Lord has used to lift my sinking soul has been through encouraging people.  There is a vital reason He tells us to stay in touch with each other, and to encourage one anotherSinking souls need living lighthouses.

When somebody you love is facing circumstances that neither of you could face alone, pray.

When someone once-radiant seems to have lost their joy, remind them of the song.  Heck, sing it to them, if you have to.

When you come across a believer who is beaten up by his or her past, don’t be like most church people and pile on.  Let them know that somebody still believes in them, and in the Jesus who miraculously forgets.

And when you find somebody who feels forsaken and forgotten, remind them of the closing words of the entire Bible:  “Behold, I’m coming quickly.”

Be the reason a sinking soul keeps reaching out and looking up.  Be the voice the keeps them hanging on.  Be the living proof that the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. The next time, it could be you who’s going under.

Wendy September 10, 2010 at 2:47 pm

Yeah that’s me! Where’s the life preserver?? I know where He is but He feels so far away. Thanks for the article.


Comments on this entry are closed.

{ 2 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: