Connected upward, yet pulled downward.
That is the battle within your soul.
But it’s for a purpose. And it’s good.
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[Combat Zone is the foundational post for soul basics. The original article was created/posted in 2009, but for easier reading divided into four posts in 2020. Judaic scripture number references used.]
READING TIME: 3 MINUTES.
Italians might wish a newborn “benvenuti alla luce”—welcome to the light—but whenever I see a baby, one of my first thoughts is “Welcome to the battlefield.”
The dynamics have begun. Within that little body lies a great commission . . . its soul’s journey, purpose, identity.
It won’t be easy because the soul-body (a uniquely fused form, a matrix for physical/spiritual life) will engage in a no-holds-barred tug of war vs. resting in a holy balance.
I know that battle well. More than likely, you sense it too. It is, after all, the stuff within all of us residing on this side of heaven.
Some say that each of us is given a word . . . a word that keeps popping up through our lives. If that’s the case, my word is soul, which is intrinsically linked to my longtime subterranean awareness of God.
My earliest recollections of God’s presence, hearing Him on some level, and my deep desire to be with Him (and return to Him) started around age 4. I’d think of Him, spend time in quiet places outdoors seeking Him . . . and would sometimes lie across the bed in the afternoon for a nap, asking if I could go be with Him.
But every time I’d wake up from those hoping-to-be-with-God naps, there I was. Still here. I’d get sad and cry because He hadn’t taken me.
I believe that was my young soul reaching for what it instinctively hungered: Him.
But it’s been a long and
soul road since then—with a hiatus or two (or more) from that earlier panting for Him.
A seriously real spiritual battle had pulled my soul in various directions. Trying to eclipse Him.
But then . . . He stepped in. And the deep-dive into the soul and Him began—again.
Here’s a look at what’s behind the scenes of your soul battle and mine.
WHAT’S WARRING WITHIN
Your soul is breathed from God. It holds the identity of what God made you to be in Him vs. the illusion that whispers to you from the world and other sources.
An unseen God and an unseen soul. Both real, tangible in a unique and mysterious way. Both hidden, yet sensed, felt, and evidenced in this physical world.
Your God-breathed soul is called upward to Him—but its visible vessel, the body, is made from the earth (dust to dust) and is tethered to this world.
Like in a theatrical production, both players (soul and body) move downstage. The power struggle begins. The soul’s battle-heavy glory work ignites.
And a cast of characters join in and muddle your soul story—many opponents on many soul-body battlefronts, spiritually and physically:
(1) the world—earthly, mundane, carnal, temporal pursuits
(2) your DNA
(3) outer impacts—cultural/environmental
(4) relationships—family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, congregant members, etc.
(5) life encounters/experiences
(6) your since-the-beginning-of-time adversary, satan
And let’s not forget free will . . . complete with your two-sided inclinations (good guy/not-so-good guy).
Now to the Hebrew for some insights, things that might be hidden otherwise. The drive toward doing/choosing/thinking things that are good before humanity and before God is called yetzer hatov (yet-zer hah-tove, יֵצֶר טוב).
And the drive toward doing/choosing/thinking not-so-good things—a self-driven, world-tethered life—is called yetzer hara (yet-zer hah-rah, יֵצֶר הַרַע).
Yetzer means plan, create, produce—and hatov means the good while hara means the evil.
Humanity’s plan (way of thinking, choosing, thinking) is what got us in trouble to begin with—i.e. the Garden of Eden.
Repeatedly throughout scripture God warns us about our soul-body’s planning, thinking, choosing, doing. He says . . .
(1) our hearts (the seat of our emotions and thoughts) are deceitfully wicked (Jeremiah 17:9, 10)
(2) our most righteous acts are like filthy menstral rags before God’s holiness (Isaiah 64:6)
(3) our imaginings (rooted in our hearts) are evil from youth (Genesis 8:21b)
(4) none of us are righteous (Ecclesiastes 7:20, Psalm 53:3-4, Psalm 14:2-3), among many others.
So considering the state of our inclinations, soul-body dynamic, and outside forces, it doesn’t take much to stir up an inner battle that impacts your life with others and with God. Instead of doing what the soul-body matrix should be doing. Stirring up its entire being to love and serve Him.
What can you do? Plenty, actually. But let’s take it gently, get more understanding, and start with the nuances of the soul, at what the Hebrew reveals.
READ PART TWO NOW. COMBAT ZONE SERIES: PART 2—SOUL NUANCES
CREDITS: Canyon crevice photo by Joe Gardner on Unsplash.com