spring of the soul

The soul is a funny thing. Shapeless and mysterious. Invisible yet enduring. Immaterial yet indispensable. The soul evades effortless definition.

The soul like the Earth shifts in seasons. Spring emerges from winter bursting with life. Spring grows into the full heat and life of summer. And after the gentle slowing of harvest in fall, the cool rest gives way to winter.

Looking back over this year, 2017 has been the spring of my soul. At the outset of this new season one clear word came to my heart: Closer. The spring of my soul was dawning like the cherry blossoms that line the Potomac and His promise to our family was “Closer.”

The seeds we planted in the thawing ground of Parcelles Assainies has led to new faith, new baptisms, new life. Even the winter-burned corners of our souls that become numb and forgotten began to warm by the fire of His Holy Spirit. And it is these times that vital truth bursts vibrantly to life: we cannot afford to lose our souls in the numbness of winter. Our calling, our purpose, our passion to lift up the name of Jesus is too important to suffer the frostbite of a frozen soul.

In April, Randy Tarr (our West Africa area director) and I journeyed into the open country of Chad, a country in need of a soul that has occupied a special place in our hearts for several years. Chad is the home to 72 unreached people groups but few Christian workers. Being back in the sands of the Sahara I felt the pumice-like cleansing of the desert scraping away callouses on my winter soul.

In the heat of the glaring sun I felt the revitalizing wind of the Holy Spirit as we prayed for new men and women to lay down their lives to reach the unreached of that great nation. In the stark and severe discomfort of the desert where bedouins and camels roam along the cracking abandoned roads, where motorbikes weave around potholes and children beg for bread, one harsh truth remains: we live on the planet of lost souls.

In this spring of my soul I’m reminded of the witness a nameless disciple wrote to Diogentus, a 2nd century man seeking to understand the Christian faith. Diogentus was so deeply confused by the brotherly love of Jesus’ followers to one another and their courage in the face of persecution and death. The disciple wrote: “What the soul is to the body, Christians are to the world. The soul is dispersed through all the members of the body, and Christians throughout the cities of the world.”

Are these words true of you? Are they true of me?

When we as Jesus’ people look at Ndjamena and Dakar, Touba and Abeche do we see soulless cities where Christ has not been named? Does our heart ache for the unreached? Do we hear the call of Jesus to draw closer, closer to His throne, closer to the lost?

The world around us becomes more unhinged every day, robotically passing from dawn to dusk, soulless, lonely. Lost. The nations, the great cities, the unreached peoples of this world are in need of a soul among them. May the words of St. Patrick be as true for us today: “Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me. Christ in the mouth of all who speak of me.”