Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Rebuilding the Soul

Continuing my slow, deliberate and prayerful journey through VanVonderen's book Soul Repair.

As the authors discuss how God rebuilds the soul (p 135ff), two core disciplines come to the surface: surrendering and listening to God.

Surrender means letting go of our attempts to control, manipulate and create life and love for ourselves. It also means trusting God to provide these things that I need. I struggle deeply with this. My "orphan" self believes deeply that there is no one there for me, that I am on my own to find life for myself. This self is literally unable to receive grace. It is my default mode of relating to God and the world.

One of the ways we can recognize our need for surrender is every instance in which we feel anxious, angry or resentful. Whenever we are experiencing these emotions, it is likely that we are attempting (with futility) to control our world. It can be helpful here to make a list of the people and/or situations provoking these feelings and surrender the list to God (maybe in a specific place, like a "surrender box").

Listening to God through Prayer, Meditation and Scripture helps us to get in touch with God's Yes in us an for us in Christ. Scripture provides us with the "raw material" that we listen to and meditate upon. We practice reading in a listening posture, allowing space and time for God to respond (another very helpful resource here is Sandra Wilson's Into Abba's Arms). The authors wisely remind us that we bring all of our idolatries and dysfunctions to the reading of the text of Scripture. We need to be aware of these things so that we can attempt to surrender them before we read, so that we don't read the Scriptures through filters of damaged and unhealthy spiritualities. The Scriptures can breathe grace into our souls, but we miss the grace if we aren't aware of and actively surrendering our filters. We often twist the Scriptures without being aware of it, according to our addictions to performance or indulgence.

In prayer we pour out our hearts to God in expression of deep need. Pouring out our hearts to God opens the eyes and ears of our hearts to hear God's loving voice. This allows us to be in a receptive listening posture when reading Scripture.

Psalm 62:8,
Trust in him at all times, O people;
       pour out your hearts to him,
       for God is our refuge. (NIV)

Psalm 46:10,
"Be still, and know that I am God." (NIV)

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