As I write this, I sit on a white wicker bench in a gazebo built over a saltwater marsh. Egrets, herons, and sanderlings are searching for their lunch in the low tide. Other birds perch atop pilings nearby, basking in the sunshine as they survey their surroundings.
I’m on Edisto Island, South Carolina, and it feels like a different world than home. Last evening I peered down from the gazebo and saw a stingray lying on the mud just below the water’s surface. Today I’m secretly hoping to see an alligator—from a safe distance, of course.
Several years ago Gene and I decided to do something special for our 35th wedding anniversary (it’s February 20). When the opportunity came to make this trip, we decided to go for it. Besides, we hadn’t taken an honest-to-goodness vacation in who-knows-how–long, and we were very ready for a rest.
While here we’ve unplugged from the internet as much as possible, done a bit of sightseeing, watched the sun rise over the Atlantic Ocean, gazed in awe at the sunsets, and ridden bike along palm-shaded trails. We’ve attended several exercise classes instructed by my good friend Vicki Heath. We visited the Baptist church where her husband Rob pastors, and we cooked supper for them one evening. But most of all, we’ve rested and enjoyed quiet. unrushed time in the Word, in prayer, and in the beautiful outdoors. We’ve cared for our souls.
Soul care is essential in the midst of all our travel and ministry responsibilities. Without it, we can so easily fall prey to wrong thinking—that the weight of the world sits on our shoulders, that no one really understands what our lives are like, and that what we do doesn’t really make a difference anyway. But nurturing our souls keeps us strong and our focus right.
Soul care is important not just for me and Gene. It’s vital for you too, no matter your age or occupation or life season. When the soul is strong, one’s mental and emotional capacity is healthy too. Problems don’t loom so large. We’re less likely to lash out at others when things don’t turn out as we hope. We’re better able to process information needed to make good decisions. We’re able to pour out from a full vessel rather than trying in vain to pour from one that’s empty.
Even Jesus recognized the value of caring for one’s soul by withdrawing from work in order to rest. “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile,” He said to the disciples shortly after they’d dealt with John the Baptist’s death and during yet another busy stretch of giving time and energy to others (Mark 6:31).
Sometimes we feel guilty taking time for ourselves. Or we think we dare not lest the world, or at least our family, fall apart in our absence. Or we simply neglect to prioritize it because we think we’re like the Energizer Bunny. But let’s remember that even God rested. Let’s take our cues from Him and do likewise.
Maybe you’re in a life season that doesn’t allow you to retreat for a week as I’ve just done, but you could enjoy a bubble bath after the kids are asleep. Or you could read a good book at your favorite coffee shop for an hour every other week. Or you could sit on your sofa and sip your favorite tea and do nothing for a few minutes every evening. Whatever works for you, do it. And don’t feel guilty.
By the time you read this, I’ll be back home. My next flight happens in six days when I head to Edmonton to host our missions booth for three days at Missions Fest Alberta. From then until the end of April, I’ll travel nearly every weekend for speaking engagements, and I’ll attend our annual staff conference in Hungary. Thanks to this week away, I’m recharged and ready to pour from a full vessel.
Question: How do you care for your soul?
#bgbg2 #SoulCare #ChristianDevotions