Soul Care: Finding the Promised Land

So we’ve been talking this month about
soul care and we’ve been in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, the Outer Banks in North
Carolina, and today we’re on the shores of the Susquehanna right in front of
Harrisburg, our state capital. And we’ve been talking this month about soul care –
caring for that deepest part of our being. That part that integrates
everything else into a whole. We’ve visited ruthlessly eliminating hurry
from our lives and simple practical things like getting physical rest; sleep,
and spiritual rest; taking a Sabbath. Last time we looked at caring for your soul
through personal growth and development. Exercising your soul if you will. In this
final video connection on soul care, I’d like to focus on what God is doing in
you. Most of the time our focus is on what God is doing through us and so we
tend to become results-oriented. How many were in church Sunday? Was an event
successful? Did we do well in what ministry we presented? And so forth. But
even when God is working through us, he is also working in us.
Ruth Haley Barton wrote a book: Strengthening the Soul of Your
Leadership. It’s a journey with Moses through his
leadership experiences. In the last chapter entitled “Re-envisioning the
Promised Land”, Barton says this, “Strengthening the soul of our leadership
is an invitation to stay connected with our own soul. That very private place
where God’s Spirit and my spirit dwell together in union and to lead from that
place.” This is a place where we don’t have all the answers or at least not
when everybody wants those answers. It’s a place where we’re not in control, God
is. It’s a place where the quickest way isn’t always the best way because the
transformation that is happening in us is more important than getting to where
we think we need to go. We’re often in a hurry to
get somewhere. A goal achieved, a task accomplished – to our very own promised
land. But what may be frustrating is that God doesn’t seem to be in a hurry. He
seems to be as concerned about the process as the promised land. He’s
working in you as well as through you. I’m intrigued by Deuteronomy 34:4. In
that passage it says, “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘This is the land of which I
swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your
descendants.’ I have caused you Moses to see it with your own eyes, but you shall
not cross over there.” Never once did Moses complain about this reality. 80
years of leadership and Moses doesn’t quite get to experience the promised
land. He gets to see it from a distance but he doesn’t get to enter it
personally. What’s up with that? Well, the truth be known many of us are
experiencing someone else’s Promised Land. We’re enjoying the answers to
prayer offered a generation or two back a-ways and the reality is that some of
the prayers we pray won’t fully be answered in our generation. If we’re not
careful we can become discouraged, frustrated, even embittered because we
fail to appreciate that God is working in us. Individually and collectively and
not just through us. Moses, God’s friends, seem to navigate
this so well. I have to agree with Ruth Barton’s conclusion that for Moses, God
was the promised land, not real estate but God’s presence that had accompanied
Moses all through the journey. Let me ask you today pastor has your soul found its
delight in God’s abiding presence? He not only wants to work through you. He wants
to work in you. The results, and I love results, we ultimately have to leave
results to God. Now, I have to qualify that with a quote:
“We work as if it all depends on us but we pray as if it all depends on God.” I
love that balance! And here’s a thought as an epilogue, the next time we read of
Moses, remember Deuteronomy 34. He dies and is
buried by God. The next time we read of Moses he is in the promised land and
he’s talking with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. Yeah, that brings
strength to my soul! God has a way of bringing things around in glorious
fashion. So may God Himself be your portion. Your promised land. As you love
him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Friend, take care of your soul.

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