The day I purchased my used 2010 Honda Pilot was also the day I learned first-hand what it means to hydroplane. While checking out the car, I somehow neglected to pay attention to the condition of the tires. Driving home in a sudden downpour, I tapped my brakes only to discover that my bald tires had lost contact with the pavement, sending me fishtailing across the adjacent lanes of the tollway.
Thankfully, I was able to regain control and escape my predicament unscathed. Too often, I find that I can internalize the worries or concerns of my life rather than identify them and give them to God and share them with anyone else. When this happens, I find myself going through the motions in my relationship with God and those I care about the most. When I am “hydroplaning,” in life, I lack the self-awareness of what is going on beneath the surface of my life.
The Bible teaches that each of us is made in the image of God and are wonderfully complex, having both an external life and an internal life. When the Bible uses the term, soul, it most often refers to the internal, “spiritual” part of our nature. John Wesley, considered the founder of the Methodist and Wesleyan Churches, frequently asked the question “How is your soul?” to colleagues at Oxford University. This is a much different question than simply “how are you?” It is closer to the question, “How are you doing, really?” “How is your soul?” encourages us to pause and reflect before answering.
I find that the pace and pressures of life often leave us with a depleted or weary soul. In Psalm 42, the author takes an honest look within and describes his soul as “downcast.” “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”
This passage provides us an excellent example of someone who is willing to take an honest look within at what is going on below the surface of his life. This is the opposite of hydroplaning. In the book, Soul Shaping, Douglas Rumford describes the following symptoms of soul neglect: increased irritability and impatience, even with those we love; a growing sense of discontentment and restlessness; increased feelings of being overwhelmed; a loss of joy; a loss of compassion. We find ourselves doing more but enjoying it less.
The truth is, this is not God’s will for any of us. Jesus declared in John’s gospel, that he came to offer us a different way to live. He came to reconcile us to God and offer us spiritual or soul life as a gift, through faith in Him. He came so that we could experience an “abundant life” or live with a “full soul.’ One of my favorite New Testament passages is Matthew 11, where Jesus makes the following offer:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
I have found that a personal relationship with Jesus frees me from having to be in control. I am able to rest in God’s love and care for me in Christ, and deal honestly with what is going on under the surface of my life. As I seek to emulate the kind of life that Jesus lived, I find interior resources that I don’t have otherwise.
So, how is your soul these days? As the uncertainty and stress of life increases, it is easy to lose the grounding that comes from a personal and ongoing dependence on God. The apostle John opens the little book of third John, with a warm greeting and prayer for his friend, Gaius. “Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.” (3 John 1:2)
I pray that your soul is getting along well these days. If you find yourself spiritually or emotionally hydroplaning, slow down enough to regain the grounding of a personal connection with God.