Every now and then my friend, Pat, sends me an e-mail that simply says, “How is your soul?” For seven years or so now, she is the only person who asks me that question. One of the reasons that question is central to our friendship is that we met when we were the only two who signed up for a covenant discipleship group at a particular time and Pat insisted that Wesley’s historical question for the class meetings be a part of our meetings.
John Ortberg discussed the question when he spoke to us yesterday morning. He said that at some point in his life someone had convinced him that the question “How is your soul?” was actually code for “How often are you having your private devotional time?” Of course, that is actually a very different question! You can religiously make time for morning prayer and scripture reading and have a very sick or impoverished soul. That is why Covenant Discipleship groups not only hold one another accountable for private devotion but also for corporate worship, acts of mercy and compassion, and acts of justice.
However, the question is much more comprehensive than checking off a list of activities that we have participated in. For years, I have answered it based on my emotions on a particular day—How close or far do I feel from God today? But Ortberg gave me a better way of answering the question.
Ortberg suggested that we look within and ask ourselves: Am I easily irritated? Am I discouraged? Am I stressed? Burned out? Fatiqued? Tempted? Do I need to hype what I’m doing or thinking? Does my life or ministry need a bit of spin?
All these are good indicators that things are not well with our soul, because when it is well with our soul we can: let go, bear burdens, resist temptation, relax, sleep, and hope.
So—how is your soul?