Your Soul Needs a Center

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A soul without a center is like a house built over a sinkhole.

“How collapsed you are my soul, and how you sigh over me.” On the other hand, the soul comes alive when it is centered on God. “Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love… for to You I lift up my soul.”

A friend once told me how his three-year-old son, who is now a grown man in his thirties, used to approach him when he was tired or frightened or just needed to be held. The little guy would reach out with his arms and say, “Hodja, Daddy. Hodja,” his three-year-old version of “Hold me, Daddy.”

Years later, my friend recalled, his son came home from work and discovered his wife had left him for another man. He was devastated and called his dad and asked if he could come over. Of course he could, so he drove the five hours to his parents’ home, walked in the door, and collapsed into his father’s arms. My friend told me, “I could almost hear him crying, ‘Hodja, Daddy. Hodja.’ ”

When we reach out to God, we are lifting our souls up to be nurtured and healed.

A soul centered in God always knows it has a heavenly Father who will hold its pain, its fear, its anxiety. This is spiritual life: to place the soul each moment in the presence and care of God. “My soul cleaves to You, Your right hand upholds me.”

It is much harder than it sounds to keep our souls centered on God. We hold on tightly, but often to the wrong things. But staying centered on God — His word, His ways — is the essence of life for the soul.

Thomas Kelly wrote, “We feel honestly the pull of many obligations and try to fulfill them all. And we are unhappy, uneasy, strained, oppressed, and fearful we shall be shallow… We have hints that there is a way of life vastly richer and deeper than all this hurried existence, a life of unhurried serenity and peace and power. If only we could slip over into that Center!.. We have seen and known some people who have found this deep Center of living, where the fretful calls of life are integrated, where No as well as Yes can be said with confidence.”

“My soul clings to You; your right hand upholds me.” When God seems distant, “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” Brother Lawrence called this “practicing the presence” of God, and the most important part of that practice lay in “renouncing, once and for all, whatever does not lead to God.”

A very simple way to guard your soul is to ask yourself, “Will this situation block my soul’s connection to God?”

As I begin living this question I find how little power the world has over my soul. What if I don’t get a promotion, or my boss doesn’t like me, or I have financial problems, or I have a bad hair day? Yes, these may cause disappointment, but do they have any power over my soul? Can they nudge my soul from its center, which is the very heart of God? When you think about it that way, you realize that external circumstances cannot keep you from being with God. If anything, they draw you closer to Him.

Watch the Video for Soul Keeping

Excerpted with permission from Soul Keeping by John Ortberg, copyright Zondervan.

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Your Turn

Do you feel your soul crying out ‘Hodja, Daddy. Hodja.’ to God during times of pain, fear, and anxiety? Does crisis draw you closer to Him? Come join the conversation on our blog! We would love to hear from you about learning to cause your soul to cleave to the Father! ~ Devotionals Daily

John Ortberg

John Ortberg is senior pastor at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in Menlo Park, California. He is the bestselling author of Who is this Man, When the Game is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box, The Life You've Always Wanted and If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat. John and his wife, Nancy, have three grown children.

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