On Boxing Day, Danny and I were driving out from the village, to head to town. We had spent Christmas in the village with our friends and we were on our way to Manila to attend a missionary conference. We chatted on the way to town about things that had happened in ministry and life over the past months, and we dreamed and planned ahead into the New Year, setting some goals for the months ahead.
The day after we drove out of the village, (the day after we discussed all our hopes and plans and dreams for the next year), the Lord brought a verse to my attention. It wasn’t a verse I was expecting to come across, but when I read it, I knew that the Holy Spirit was directing me to this verse for this new year of 2015.
Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
We can easily grow cold when we are not diligent to keep our minds on the Lord. We can start to live life on our own strength and our peace and joy hinges on the circumstances of our lives, instead of on the never changing love and promises of our great God. However, keeping our souls diligently is not just a one-time decision for each day. It is not based on whether we spend time doing our devotions or not. It is so much more, because it involves our heart and out of our heart flows the decisions we make each day and how we chose to live. If Jesus is forefront in my mind, when I am worshipping Him with all my heart, it will effect the care I take over the things I watch, the words I speak and where I let my mind wander, to name but a few. To keep my soul diligently invites God into all parts of my day as I commune with Him and depend upon Him, to live as is pleasing to His Holy Name.
I love that the last line of this verse is included right here. It reiterates to me that this, “keeping of my soul” isn’t all about me. Though keeping my soul diligently is for my best and for the Lord’s glory, it has a great impact on the ones I love and who I live most closely with. We are to pass on our experience with God, by sharing these truths, stories, examples and this way of life with our children. Sometimes we try to shield our families from the hardships, the difficult things that happen, and true, we need so much wisdom as we raise our little loves. But, we can also keep them in the dark from seeing the wonderful answers to prayer and how God alone can turn even hard and difficult things around, for His great glory. I think back to the months we endured with Izzy being sick and the time when we had to be apart, as a family. (This is the post from that month.) Those were difficult things to explain to a three year old and yet, today she only remembers, Jesus answered prayer and he made her better. In Sunday School a few months back, when the question given to the children was, “Who did Jesus heal?” (answer that particular Sunday being the paralyzed man) her immediate response was, “Me!” She hasn’t forgotten this simple fact and when we talk about it, it reminds her of God’s goodness and answers to prayer for her.
To be are aware and thankful for the presence of Jesus in our home, means He can never just be set aside for bedtime stories, grace before dinner and Sunday School on a Sunday morning. He interrupts our lives and our schedules in the most beautiful of ways and incredibly, eternity can be reverenced in the smallest moments of our days. What a joy to know, that when we keep our souls diligently as parents, we are nurturing an environment which will help our children to also be mindful of Jesus. I can think of no greater thing I long for more of in my home; than for my children to think affectionately of Jesus and to know Him as their personal Saviour. It takes away all the labels of being a “stay-at-home-mom” a “missionary-wife” or whatever label we may feel burdened or limited by and it elevates this “keeping of souls” to the greatest endeavor we could ever be part of; teaching little hearts about Jesus.
I have been thinking over this verse since I first read it and began wondering, how do I keep my soul? How do I guard my heart? I found so much hope in this verse:
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
I cannot do it on my own, but praise God, He is the one who can keep our hearts and our minds. It is through Him and the peace that we have in knowing Jesus, that our souls will be guarded. So, as I seek to keep my soul diligently, for me it means talking to God throughout the day. Not letting my mind be filled with worry, because being mindful of the God of this world, does not give space in my mind to worry about my future. I want above all else to live in the present with my Redeemer and to live as one who is forever grateful to have been bought by the precious blood of the Son of God.
As I finish this tonight, the words of the hymn, “Come Thy Fount of Every Blessing” come to mind.
Just like the Israelites, the Lord knows we too, are prone to wander. We can set aside the best, for good and idols that were never meant to be given priority, sneak in and they begin to rule our days.The enemy can be so subtle, by distracting us with normal things; work, helping others, busyness, success, social media, leisure, entertainment and all the time keeping our minds off our souls. As I head into this new year with lots of plans and hopes led out for our family and ministry, I trust I will be diligent to guard my heart and my soul above all else, lest I become distracted from my first love; Jesus.
And this is why I keep coming back to this little blog…because it helps me to remember.
PS: If anybody gets to the bottom of my wordy blogs….I am trying to decide what to do with this little blog this year. Is there any ideas out there? Anything you would like to hear more about? Less about? I am always glad for input! 🙂 Feel free to email me at anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org and of course there is always Instagram where you will find me as @pippyjbrooks.