A Message from Rev. Randy Buecheler

“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”  Psalm 63:1

“The soul seeks God with its whole being. Because it is desperate to be whole, the soul is God smitten and God crazy and God obsessed. My mind may be obsessed with idols; my will may be enslaved to habits; my body may be consumed by appetites.  But my soul will never find rest until it rests with God.” John Ortberg

The current unchartered territory has created a soul-crisis for our communities. How do we care for our soul when life is full of so many feelings of panic, hopelessness, and worry?  It may feel different now, but in fact we must look to the same way we care for our soul when life seems “normal”.   In my 32 years of pastoral work, I have dealt with the souls of others and my own soul.  Here are a few thoughts I have found helpful.

First, recognize that you do have a soul and it needs care.  John Ortberg, in his book, “Soul Keeping,” wrote that each of us has an outer life and an inner life. My outer life as a pastor is public and visible as I care for my wife and children; attend Rotary meetings; volunteer at Mountains Community Hospital; pray; write sermons; lead worship, daily chapel at our two schools, and Bible Studies; and care for those in need, the sick, and the dying. With all of these obligations and cares, my very busy outer life can take all my time. I’m sure each of us also feel the outer pressure to spend all of our time on these outer activities – after all, they are the good works that hold our community together.

Yet we all also have an inner life where our secret thoughts and hopes and wishes live.  This is my soul.   Because this inner life is invisible, it is easy to neglect it. I have often neglected my inner life. John Ortberg records the same sense of inattention to his inner life, as also a busy pastor.   Luckily, he had a friend named Dallas who specialized in caring for the soul. When John felt overwhelmed by his outer life, Dallas wrote these wise words: “Brother John, why is there such value and mystery to your existence?  The really deep reason is because of this tiny, fragile vulnerable, precious thing about you called your soul. You are not just a self, you are a soul.  As the Bible records in the Book of Genesis, ‘The LORD God formed humans of the dust of the ground, and breathed into their nostrils the breath of life; and humans become a living soul.’ You are a soul made by God, made for God and made to need God, which means you were not made to be self-sufficient.”

Perhaps those words carry the important lesson in caring for your soul.  You were not made to be self-sufficient.  Instead of looking inside yourself for help, you need to look outside yourself to care for your soul; look for God, who wants to fill your souls with what it is searching for, and to the love of other souls.    I work to connect my soul to a place of hope, love and peace through worship, reading the Bible, prayer, and other people.  Again John Ortberg wrote, “A paradox of the soul is that it is incapable of satisfying itself, but it is also incapable of living without satisfaction. You were made for soul-satisfaction, but you will only ever find it in God, not in the good works alone. The soul craves to be secure. The soul craves to be loved. The soul craves to be significant, and we find these only in God in a form that can satisfy us. That’s why the psalmist says to God, “Because your love is better than life . . . my soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods.” Soul and appetite and satisfaction are dominant themes in the Bible — the soul craves because it is meant for God.   “My soul, find rest in God.” Psalm 62:5   

Look again at those words. The soul craves to be secure. The soul craves to be loved. The soul craves to be significant. My soul finds security, love and significance in my relationship with God, in connecting with God. When my filled soul feels secure, loved, and significant, I can pour the love God has poured into me into the lives of others. As I reach out to serve others, full of the foremost and freely given love of Christ, my soul is truly blessed a second time. Again John Ortberg wrote, “People will look different when I see them with God. People are a huge part of the “with God” life, because we have to live with people. We have to interact with them. How we get along with people says a lot about where our soul rests. When we are living with God, we will see people as God sees them. If I’m aware God is here with me, and God is looking at you at the same moment I’m looking at you, it will change how I respond to you. Instead of seeing you as the annoying server at McDonald’s who messed up my order, I will see you as someone God loved enough to send his Son to die on your behalf. I will see you as a real person who got up dreading going to work, dealing with impatient customers, being on her feet all day. In other words, I will no longer see you as everyone else sees you. This is exactly what Paul is after when he says, “From now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view.” From now on, now that my soul is centered with God in Jesus, I won’t look at people the same way.”  ― John Ortberg, Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You

We were not made to be self-sufficient, nor to live solely in the outer life. We were created to live in a loving community with God. As we are loved and then give our love away in service to others, our soul becomes healthy.     

“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”  Psalm 63:1

You can find my Sunday messages at mclutheran.com. If you would like to talk to a member of our congregation, we are here to listen and care for you.