Just before I was born again, God did me the very great privilege of showing me my soul. Mind you, at the time, I had no idea it was my soul because I was an atheist. I won’t go into detail about what I saw, but let’s just say that it was enough to finally break me. And broken, I was shortly thereafter and very tenderly put back together again by God.
Oscar Wilde wrote a book about seeing the state of one’s soul. In it, a vain young man, exhilarated by the power and privilege that his youthful beauty conferred on him, makes a wish that he could keep his good looks for the rest of his life and that a newly painted portrait of him would instead bear the marks of aging. The young man’s wish comes true, but instead of only bearing the marks of aging, the portrait also shows the man’s sins. As the portrait starts to age and turn ugly, the young man covers it and hides it in the attic so that no-one will see his secret shame. I recommend reading the book. The 1945 film (you can see it on Youtube) is also worth watching.
We spend a lot of time worrying about our physical health, including our appearance. In fact, it becomes a source of pride for some of us. There’s nothing wrong with taking care of our body; it is, after all, the vessel of God’s spirit and we’re expected to look after it properly so that we can do the work we need to do. But when our physical health becomes more important to us than our spiritual health, then it’s a problem.
Whenever I hear the wail of an ambulance siren, I think: Imagine if a siren went off every time someone’s soul was in mortal danger? Imagine if, when someone was just about to make that final fatal choice condemning him or her to an eternity of pain, a siren went off, piercing and wailing, so that everyone within hearing range would rush in prayer to help?
Imagine, too, if well in advance of that siren going off, we were able to get people to think about their soul? Imagine, if instead of talking about the weather or physical aches and pains, we started off casual conversations with “How’s your soul?” Imagine if soul talk became as common a communication starter as weather talk or sports talk or money talk?
The health of our soul should be our clear priority, not our physical or financial health. As born-agains, we have the very great privilege of being able, at any time and any place, to know the exact state of our soul, and we should take advantage of that by making frequent spot-checks. We should be checking our soul’s health with the same diligence as the world is told to check blood pressure, blood sugar, BMI, tooth decay, bank balance, stock reports, engine oil, and so on. Some people are afraid to get check-ups for fear of what they might find. Don’t be that person.
As an atheist, I was never asked “How’s your soul?” Mind you, I didn’t believe I had a soul, so had someone actually asked me, a whole different conversation would have ensued, during which the exact health of my soul would have become glaringly and appallingly evident to anyone within viewing, hearing, and spitting range. Think “pea soup scene” in “The Exorcist”. Then you have an idea of how I would have responded to any inquiries about my soul.
Still, such an inquiry should have been made, regardless of the unpleasantness of the anticipated response. In the movie, the mother didn’t back away from her hideously afflicted child, and neither did the priests. As born-agains, we take on these fearless and caring roles, just like Jesus did. We are priests and mothers at large. We love and tend to needs, even as we’re cursed for it.
People need to hear the words “How’s your soul”. They may not want to hear those words, but they need to hear them. They need to be reminded that they have a soul and that the health of their soul should take priority over all other concerns.
So, how’s your soul?