SoulBreaths

Resurrection, Real or Not: Part 5—Why A Bodily Resurrection?

By SoulBreaths Author [ 2 years ago ]

Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale shadows our soul-body journey. But what’s that got to do with needing a resurrection? A few things, as it turns out.

 

© SoulBreaths.com. All rights reserved.

 

READING TIME: 5 MINUTES.

 

HAVE YOU READ THE FIRST POSTS IN THIS SERIES?
What God Revealed
Real-Life Accounts
Real-Life Accounts Cont’d
The Resurrection Thunderbolt From Heaven
Rabbi Scholars Defend Jesus’s Resurrection

 

Shakespeare’s plays often navigate spiritual waters. The Winter’s Tale is no exception. The tragicomedy travels the barrenness, brokenness, and blackened leaves of our wintry lives and moves to a spring-like moment.

 
 

It’s a light nod to God’s promised latter rain in the Bible. This rainy season—as the Talmud and Judaic scholars call it—is the glory rain, the promised resurrection.

 

So what’s with the withered leaves and wintry tales? In the Psalms, God likens us to trees. Some good, some not so good. The condition of a tree varies from season to season, choice by choice.

 

A good, solid tree is vibrant, flourishes, bears fruit, stretches its roots and branches. Other trees may appear lively for a season but are slowing decaying from the inside out.

 

Blessed is the man . . .

whose delight is in the law of the Lord,

and who meditates on His law day and night.

He is like a tree planted by streams of water

that yields its fruit in its season,

and its leaf does not wither.

In all that he does, he prospers.


—Psalm 1:2-3

 

The righteous flourish like the palm tree

and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.

Planted in the house of the Lord,

in the courts of our God they will flourish.


—Psalm 92:13-14 (12-13)

 

But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God.

I trust in the steadfast love of God

forever and ever.


—Psalm 52:10 (8)

 

In winter, all the trees are dormant, still, laid bare. Not that much different than the time of our individual wintry tale when we are laid still . . . waiting for that latter rain resurrection.

 

But we don’t all have the same resurrection ending.


 
The body and the soul are reunited in resurrection, then face litigation in God’s court, are judged, and subsequently step into one of two places: everlasting life (for the righteous) or everlasting contempt (for the unrighteous), per Daniel 12:2 and John 5:28-29, among other scriptures.

 

Certain things impact that judgment . . . but simply said, it centers on what the soul-body did down here in light of God’s ways—and more to the point, what it did regarding one act of God in particular.

 

Before we get to that, let’s look at some plausible reasons why there’s even a need for the resurrection.

 

 

CUES FROM THE BARD

 

In Act 1, Scene 2 of The Winter’s Tale, Polixenes—King of Bohemia—describes his childhood relationship with Sicily’s King Leontes as being like twins, buddy buddies, innocents.

 

That is, until life happens and they’re cast out of their Garden-of-Eden-esque existence and into the Sicilian King’s irrational rampage, where he goes all Othello on his alleged “slippery wife” (Hermiones) and her alleged lover, Polixenes, the king’s friend.

 

The king is wrong. Like really wrong. For the sake of the plot—not unlike our own soul stories—the king and some others choose anything but the humble, righteous path.

 

The tale bulges with jealousies, accusations, misjudgments, malicious lies, for-the-better-good lies, over-the-top emotional reactions, bitterness, relationship splits, disloyalty, paranoia, tyranny, expulsions, broken hearts, death, and more.

 

Along the way, Shakespeare exposes familiar elements of the soul’s journey—its rise, decline, fall, redemptive resurrection (Queen Hermiones is brought back to life after being dead sixteen years).

 

He even turns the physical tables of the atmosphere to mirror the inner soul rumblings of his characters—Sicily’s Mediterranean warmth and light are shrouded in a wintry gloom.

 

Veiled, fractured souls.
Adrift.
Out of sync with God’s ways.
Self-focused. Earthly tethered.
Becoming a wintry heart of darkness.

 

Enter two reasons for an end-of-days resurrection . . .

 

(1) accountability—of what the soul-body has done, said, thought along its earthly journey.

 

(2) divine reconstruction of the soul-body—so it no longer is earthbound/self-focused but raised, recalibrated, made new so those deemed righteous can move with the give-receive love flow of heaven.

 

Let me explain . . .

 
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EXIT, PURSUED BY A BEAR

journeying between weight and responsibility

 

Okay, so you’re not exactly like Shakespeare’s Antigonus, the king’s advisor who teeters between loyalty to the crown and loyalty to truth, makes concessions to protect, and then is chased off stage by a bear and killed.

 

But believe it or not, bears and their presumed Shakespearean connotation have their place in your soul experience and its aftermath, your future resurrection.

 

The word bear appears about twelve times in the play—where a person bears the onus for their actions and their related guilt. And, yeah, the fierce “bearish” beast appears in the midst of it all.

 

How bear/bearing translates to the soul’s journey and end-of-days accountability goes like this—on both sides of the Judaic-Messianic bridge:

 

Bearing your soul—transparent before your Creator, God.
Bearing the weight of your actions—good and not so good.
Bearing the scrutiny of others and our internal self.
Bearing the hardships and testings along life’s journey.
Bearing the responsibility for what you’ve said, done, thought, written, shared, taught, imposed, desired, touched, took, gave, blessed, cursed, healed, harmed, lifted up, brought down.
Bearing the yoke of Heaven (surrendered to God, His word, His covenant—your identity is in Him).
Bearing the final outcome of it all—with your soul’s work salted by His holy fire, tested by His holiness, so the work is either reduced to ash and stubble or glorified in Him.

 

For God shall bring every deed (every action, work)
into litigation (for His judgment),
everything that is concealed,
whether it be good or whether it be evil.
—Ecclesiastes (Kohelet) 12:14

 

And I saw a great white throne and the one sitting on it.
The earth and sky fled from his presence,
but they found no place to hide.
I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne.
And the books were opened, including the Book of Life.
And the dead were judged according to what they had done . . .
And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life
was thrown into the lake of fire.
Revelation 20: 11, 12, 15

 

Both the soul and the body face their shared judgment: Both are accountable for the life journey. So they are reunited in a new way at the end of days—for a resurrection to righteousness or to punishment.

 

Their embattled soul-body relationship and fractured state lead to the second reason why we need a bodily resurrection . . .

 
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SHORT VERSION: SOUL-BODY DILEMMA

the need for a re-alliance

 

Your soul is knitted (so to speak) to your body while in the womb.

 

“The spirit of God has made me,
and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”
Job 33:4

 

And the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground,
and He breathed into his nostrils the soul of life,
and man became a living soul.
Genesis 2:7

 

Yes, God’s breath is in you. He breathed into you from deep within Himself. How profound and amazing is that? He’s that close to you, day by day, hour by hour, soul-breath by soul-breath.

 

Per the Hebrew in scripture, there are three words used interchangeably for soul that shed light on its nuances: breath of life (neshama), spirit/wind (ruach), and life force/self (nefesh).

 


That last one is enmeshed with the body, making a way for the soul to join the body in a human experience while in this worldly dimension.

 

But the purpose of the God-breathed soul is upward: Elevating the soul-body relationship, surrendering to the will of God, accepting the yoke of heaven. Meanwhile the body is drawn downward, tethered to the things of this world because it came from the earth, drawn to earthly things. Think dust to dust.

 

So the push-pull is on. And if the soul/spirit follows the body’s earth-minded drives vs. the call upward, the soul-body union can become . . .

 

Flooded with spiritual darkness, doctrines of demons.

Strictly a receptor—receiving for self, with no capacity for authentic giving.

Compelled by the things of this world.

Defiant, resisting the yoke of heaven.

Dissonant, clashing with God Himself.

 

In other words, a ravaged, war-scarred vessel whose soul-body partnership is in disrepair.

 

For a resurrection to righteousness,
it will need a reconstruction worthy of God’s presence.

Raised. Recalibrated. Renewed.

 

Here’s how: read the next and last post in this series: HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS CAN BE YOURS.

 
 

HAVE YOU READ THESE POSTS IN THE SERIES?

What God Revealed

Real-Life Accounts

Real-Life Accounts Cont’d

The Resurrection Thunderbolt From Heaven

Rabbi Scholars Defend Jesus’s Resurrection

Why A Bodily Resurrection

His Righteousness Can Be Yours

 

Resurrection series first created between March 30, 2016 – July 3, 2016

 

Photo Credit: Resurrection/Tomb photo by jchizhe, purchased on iStock.com (Stock photo ID:1243063771)

Photo Credit: Shakespeare by Jessica Pamp on Unsplash.com

Photo Credit: Bear Running by Zdeněk Macháček on Unsplash.com

Photo Credit: It’s Your Breath by Nienke Broeksema on Unsplash.com

Soul Remodeling: A Wilderness Hero [Sarah]

By SoulBreaths Author [ 6 years ago ]

SARAH (SARAI) from barrenness of soul to prophet—and the world’s matriarch

 

© SoulBreaths.com. All rights reserved.

 

First—click this pop-up for a 1-2-3 recap of God's soul-wilderness tactic.

 

READING TIME: 6 MINUTES.

 

Flashes of His light. A moment of revelation. The soul pricked with divine sparks. That was Sarah as every crack of lightning cut through her story. The call from the polytheistic, cosmopolitan Ur to Haran, move from Haran to Canaan, dealings with Lot, battle with the five kings, sweepings into pharaoh’s and Abimelech’s harems.

 

Something had to be learned here, absorbed here, infused here, stripped here in order to birth something of greater magnitude later.

 

Sarah was strong, independent, vocal, and faithful to God’s calling on her soul. Rashi, a renowned medieval French rabbi, said the various meanings of her name reveal Sarah’s identity, her soul’s ascent as it were: divine spirit, beauty, royal leadership, and prophetic gifting that surpassed Abraham’s.

 

After all, God did say, “Everything Sarah says to you—listen to her voice.” Genesis 21:12.

 

Yet the catalyst of Sarah’s story—barrenness—could reveal even more.

 

Sketchy pieces of her earlier story appear in Genesis 11:29-31, before God renamed her (Sarai to Sarah) and her husband (Abram to Abraham). “The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai . . . And Sarai was barren; she had no child . . . And Terach took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran, his son’s son, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram’s wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there . . . And the days of Terach were 205 years; Terach died in Haran.”

 

The next line begins chapter 12 and jumps right to God giving Abram the “lech lecha” command. Meaning, go for yourself, to yourself, into yourself. But hold up. How did Abram know God at this point? There’s no introduction—unlike when God introduces Himself to Moses in Exodus 3 at the burning bush.

 

Not to mention that Terach, Abram’s father, was an idolater and an idol maker, per midrash. And why was Terach moving Abram, Sarai, and the rest of the clan initially to Canaan? And what was the point of stopping in Haran, staying there instead of reaching their destination?

 

 

BACKSTORY: WHAT’S NOT SAID

 

Some rabbinic teachings suggest that Abram got the call of God—or perhaps, the introduction to Him—earlier in Ur, where he convinced his father to head out toward Canaan. Rabbi Meir Schweiger of Pardes Institute posited in a 2008 podcast on the Lech Lecha Torah portion that Terach may have thought, why not? Change your locale, you could change your luck. [1]

 

Couldn’t hurt. Sarai was barren, after all. Things just may do a turnaround.

 

But Canaan wasn’t Terach’s calling—it was Abram’s. Terach stopped along the way after setting eyes on Haran . . . perhaps distracted by what it offered or perhaps seeing it as a place to profit for his idol business. He apparently wasn’t someone with “spiritual” endeavors in mind, someone who could keep his eye on the goal and finish the task—namely, Canaan.

 

As a result, Abram and Sarai were interrupted from their destiny call to Canaan until Terach dies. They lived those years with their souls compressurized in a pagan family that had a pagan business, in a pagan city, in a pagan world. When the lech lecha command came forth in Genesis 12, Abram is 75 and Sarai is 65.

 

Her soul had to be freed from its barrenness.
Even though she had met the one true God,
her life had been steeped in the lie of paganism.

 

It was as if God were saying . . .

 

You’ve met me, but I need to take you through a series of events
to tenderize your soul and work out the toxic lies of satan
and the human viewpoint that has been polluting your soul.
I need you to come away with me
to remove any earthbound holds on your soul . . .
to remove all ties with darkness
so my Presence can flood every part of your soul
(breath, spirit/wind, rested breath/life force)
where I will release My voice, My truth of who I am
so you can discover the truth of who you are in me,
what I’ve called you to be.

 

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THE DAYS IN BETWEEN

 

Anticipation. Frustration. Each month, watching for signs of a pregnancy. Years passed. Was it a curse or sin? A divine abandonment? Something more . . . something different?

 

Sarai had her questions, maybe her doubts.

 

Could her soul even breathe in its barren exile—or did that empty nest, as some rabbinic teachings suggest, give rise to her independence and a more visible position along side her husband?

 

Was she consistently inundated with her in-law’s pagan fertility rituals, which added more pressure, physically and spiritually?

 

Did she eventually bury the hope of a child and learn to find contentment in her relationship and gifting from the one true God?

 

Actually, there’s a possibility that, in time, Sarai started growing and flowing in her barren state, and perhaps—with God’s strength—even getting a bit comfortable in her motherless wife role—free to move about, spiritually partnering with her husband.

 

But perhaps . . . perhaps that hope kept gnawing down deep within.

 


BELOVED, gaze in thine own heart,
The holy tree is growing there;
From joy the holy branches start,
And all the trembling flowers they bear.

The Two Trees, W.B. Yeats


 

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PHYSICAL JOURNEYS MIRROR THE SOUL’S INNER JOURNEY

 

Pressurized, stark, or barren situations in the natural reflect, ignite, and even move the tensions within the soul.

 

Like you and me, Sarai’s come-away-with-me, lech lecha call from God was no different.

 

She and Abram sojourned in the physical desert—living nomadically, in infertility, leaving all that was common, their land, birthplace, and relatives, entertaining guests and angels—while traversing the untapped spiritual terrain within their souls. [2]

 

Up probably felt like down. Down felt like up. A sojourn wrought with emotional, physical, and spiritual trials—not to mention those infamous family matters. Certainly, no cakewalk.

 

Promises from God were still sitting on the table.

But they couldn’t be touched or lived out until decades later.

 

When God gave 86-year-old Abram the promise of having a child by his loins, the bold, faithful Sarai came up with a plan of how they could fulfill God’s decree—a “solution” in the natural that lagged lightyears behind God’s intentions.

 

Enter stage left, Hagar.

 

Sarai’s so-called plan (using her Egyptian maidservant as a surrogate vs. God’s plan, having a child birthed by Sarai) resulted in another 13 years of deconstruction-reconstruction soul work for her and Abram—enduring and resolving the consequences of her prior getting-ahead-of-God decision to use Hagar.

 

Since Hagar’s son with Abram—Ishmael—was outside of God’s instructions, the Abrahamic covenant couldn’t be honored/fulfilled via him. However, Ishmael is considered the father of the Arab world.
 

GOD’S PLAN MOVES FORWARD

 

Count on it. God’s purposes will be fulfilled—even when we go rogue.

 

He voiced a promise and a new name into Abram and Sarai that impacted their destiny . . . a move from having “a” mission to having a worldwide calling, per the Talmud.[3]

 

Ninety-nine-year-old Abram—his name meaning father of a nation—became Avraham, father of many nations.

 

Eighty-nine-year-old, Sarai—meaning my princess, of a tribe/household—became Sarah, princess of the world, mother of every Jewish convert.

 

At age 90, counterintuitive to any human logic, Sarah was finally ready in God’s eyes to exhale her soul’s purpose . . . not just the birth of Isaac, but becoming a vessel in God’s hands to birth a nation out of a wilderness womb that would transform the world.

 

Read all the Soul Remodeling stories:

 

I’ve had my God- designed wilderness journeys to deconstruct-reconstruct my soul. How about you? These posts can shed some light and encouragement: Soul Remodeling Series: The Wilderness Call, Part 1 and Soul Remodeling Series: The Wilderness Call, Part 2.

 

RESOURCES & CREDITS

 

[1] Rabbi Meir Schweiger’s newer podcasts can be found on Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies.

[2] Genesis 12:1-3, Genesis 13, Genesis 14, Genesis 15:1-6, Genesis 18, Genesis 22:16-18

[3] The Talmudic concept regarding Avraham and Sarah moving from a particular mission to a universal one is from Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Berachot 13a.

CREDIT: Camels in Israel photo by Cole Keister on Unsplash.com

CREDIT: Woman’s eyes photo by Alexandru Zdrobău on Unsplash.com

CREDIT: Hair-blown woman photo by Engin Akyurt on Unsplash.com

Article created July 26, 2015.

Soul Remodeling: A Wilderness Hero [Joseph]

By SoulBreaths Author [ 6 years ago ]

JOSEPH

favor lost, favor regained—in spite of himself

 

© SoulBreaths.com. All rights reserved.

 

First—click this pop-up for a 1-2-3 recap of God's soul-wilderness tactic.

 

READING TIME: 6 MINUTES.

 

Position doesn’t just happen. It’s given by God. Joseph’s prophetic dreams aren’t a free pass to ride the tails of his royal or priest-like, multi-colored coat.

 

The word for coat in the Hebrew is k’tonet pasim, כתנת פסים—the name of the high priest’s garment.

 

And perhaps a hint of Joseph’s future soul story.

 

Those dreams are something else. Manifestations of a calling that would first become a lightning rod in God’s hands— a tool that would spark situations and form a wilderness path for Joseph’s soul.

 

It begins with his father’s favoritism and skyrockets to his brothers’ actions and reactions to Joseph’s golden position and arrogant dream-talk.

 

Sforno—Italian rabbi and regarded Torah commentator (late 1400s)—chalks up Joseph’s behavior to “youthful immaturity.”

 

Meh. Maybe. But his dream-flaunting, scandalous reporting of his brothers and overall swag demeanor are firefly flashes . . . momentary peeks into Joseph’s soul character at that moment.

 

And then there are flashes of revelation from God that Joseph experiences earlier on. So he isn’t suffering from a lost soul identity or ignorance of his destiny.

 

It’s a matter of Joseph’s soul not understanding, not being prepared to walk in that identity. And so, sure, immaturity plays a part when he “sees” a glimpse of his future calling but then walks about “as if” it’s already occurring.

 

With that, he starts sharing it with his father. And then his brothers—who aren’t amused.

 

Per Genesis 37:8, his brothers hated him even more for his dreams and for his words. So, like any of us, Joseph has to learn about prophetic gifting . . . and timing.

 

Here’s the point. We’re not always meant to share the secrets Adonai gives us from the secret place. It shouldn’t matter who sees or learns what God revealed to us . . . or who recognizes our gifting.

 

We need to remain intentionally prayerful on if, when, where, to whom, and how much to share.

 

And if we believe things need to be shared, we should double-check our motivations. Is it to seek self-glory, recognition, position, approval?

 

And that’s the thing with Joseph. His motives behind the dream-boasting may be viewed as suspect. Certainly by his brothers.

 

They don’t recognize him, don’t approve. The only position they want him to have is the bottom of that animal pit or somewhere outside of Canaan altogether.

 

Nonetheless, Joseph is destined to become the linchpin—a sustainer for B’nai Israel (children of Israel)—in spite of himself.

 

GOD STEPPED IN

 

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My heart was wandering in the sands,
a restless thing, a scorn apart;
Love set his fire in my hands,
I clasp’d the flame unto my heart.
—My Heart Was Wandering In The Sands, Christopher Brennan

 

Separated from the common in his life, Joseph is brought down physically to Egypt—signifying his soul being brought down to a lowly place spiritually.

 

A place where he’ll become deconstructed and then reconstructed into the holy.

 

Where Joseph would first have to become one with his barrenness (personal desert experience).

 

Unshackled from all he feels due him.

Freed from all he previously owned.

 

Including physical and spiritual gifting, positions as prophesied, favor with his father, and even his initial favor with Potiphar.

 

Distanced from his prior owning . . .
Joseph becomes the ownerless (hefker,הֶפְקֵר).
Left, lost, unclaimed, renounced.
No hope of being, reclaiming his perceived entitlements,
his perceived identity.
All that he thought he was vanished.
Unfulfilled position, status, prophetic dreams.
Instead, regarded as a derelict.
Imprisoned.

But the love call is sounded.
The wilderness journey begins.
Relying on God for transformation, promotion, and release.
However, only in God’s timing, His way.

 

It would take a while.

 

Becoming ownerless isn’t easy on the soul-body. The earth-focused body/vessel is pulled to things of this world—and its old habits die hard.

 

Even with all Joseph had gone through, he still attempts to wield matters in the natural to force the birth of his prophesied future position.

 

CASE IN POINT: GENESIS 40

 

Egypt’s king sent his chamberlains (cupbearer and baker) to prison, where they serve for a year along side Joseph. The king’s duo each have a dream that only Joseph can interpret.

 

Despite his physical imprisonment and its boa constrictor–like grip on his soul, Joseph knows on some level that God is keeping the communication channels open . . . breathing into him, flowing understanding.

 

It’s undeniable. God’s authoritative words are echoing within Joseph’s soul.

 

Flashes of lightning awaken the prophetic-anointing within him. Joseph recognizes it, steps up, speaks out. After all, don’t interpretations belong to God?

 

But like in any dim room after a single flash of light, darkness returns.

 

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TRUST: FAITH BECOMING REAL

 

Does Joseph still believe, remember, his early prophetic dreams? Is he encouraged by God’s lightning flashes through his soul over the years? Not right then.

 

In fact, he doesn’t merely ask the cupbearer to remember him before the king when the dream comes to pass—that would have been understandable.

 

The Hebrew reveals that Joseph pleaded, graveled, begged (nah, נא ) with the cupbearer to have lovingkindness/compassion (chesed, חסד) on him before the king so he could get out of prison. Because he was, after all, innocent.

 

Joseph may have been thinking, enough already.

 

My soul can’t breathe in this uncertain darkness any longer.
My mind is exhausted. My heart is weakened.
Favored in this prison pit or not, I want out—and I want out now.
And what about those prophetic dreams God clearly spoke to me?
I’ve waited long enough . . . time to take action.

 

There’s a difference between faith (אמונה) and trust (בִּטָּחוֹן), per commentary in The Stone Edition of the Chumash (Parasha Vayeishev, Genesis 37-40:23, pg 221).

 

Believing God exists is faith. But trust is having the certainty, the confidence, that God is “involved in events and that their outcome accords with His will.”

 

Joseph’s faith is sure. God existed. God speaks to His people. God can do the impossible. God gives flashes of light to reveal our steps along the way.

 

Trust is faith in action. It would take his soul-body dynamics to move and work in tandem, listening and daring to believe upwardly . . . maintaining a firm standing, going beyond what the physical eye and natural mind could perceive.

 

I so appreciate Joseph’s soul moment. It’s the stuff these biblical soul-arrow stories are made of.

 

All these people are real. Human. Broken. Quivering or questioning themselves, others, God—even in their moments of faith and trust, regardless of who they are and what they are about to do with God that is amazing.

 

They are you, me, and everyone else on the planet.

 
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GOD KNEW: JOSEPH’S SOUL POTENTIAL

 

The Lord cast His light through Joseph’s soul to reveal things from a different perspective on high. Much had been gifted in Joseph. Now more would be required to birth it forth.

 

Two more years in the pit—his wilderness journey. Two more years of impatience, uncertainty, wavering beliefs pulverized. Two more years walking with God toward the uncommon, a holy place within the soul.

 

Pride is worked out, and humility worked into the new fabric of his soul.

 

Grace is deposited, mercy is infused, and forgiveness (especially for his brothers) is birthed.

 

Joseph isn’t just physically delivered from prison, he’s spiritually delivered . . . his soul freed, raised to a new level, a more honest relationship with God.
 

Deconstructed along his wilderness journey and reconstructed for his destiny, he’s able to wear that prophetic garment in humility and servanthood.

 

Finally Joseph can be lifted into a position of authority among his captors—and later, be elevated in the eyes of his brothers and father—who also have undergone a level of wilderness transformation before God.

 

Read all the Soul Remodeling stories:

 

I’ve had my God- designed wilderness journeys to deconstruct-reconstruct my soul. How about you? These posts can shed some light and encouragement: Soul Remodeling Series: The Wilderness Call, Part 1 and Soul Remodeling Series: The Wilderness Call, Part 2.

 

CREDIT: Prayerful man photo at sunset photo by Aaron-burdenon Unsplash.com

CREDIT: God is faithful photo by Tony Eight Media on Unsplash.com

CREDIT: Sapling photo by Lugo Minar on Unsplash.com

Article initially created August 17, 2015.

Combat Zone Series: Part 1—Your Soul

By SoulBreaths Author [ 13 years ago ]

 

Connected upward, yet pulled downward. 

That is the battle within your soul.

But it’s for a purpose. And it’s good.

 

© SoulBreaths.com. All rights reserved.

 

[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 lucewelcome 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 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.

 

IN A BEGINNING

 

Mine, that is. One word kept popping up through my life: soul. And it’s been unshakably linked to my longtime subterranean awareness of God—regardless of my life choices.

 

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

w

  i

n

  d

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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. Derailing me away from His plan and goodness, away from the Light of the world.

 

But then . . . He stepped in. And the deep-dive into the soul’s restoration in Him began—again.

 

It’s those back-and-forth struggles that can get frustrating, right? Understanding what’s going on behind the scenes of your soul’s battle can help . . .

 
 

WHAT’S WARRING WITHIN

 
 

So let’s discuss basics—some pretty amazing basics at that.

 

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 with a gazillion subplots—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. After all, humanity’s plan (way of thinking, choosing, thinking) is what got us in trouble to begin with—i.e. the Garden of Eden.

 

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 should be doing: stirring up its entire being to love and serve Him.

 

(1) our hearts (the seat of our emotions and thoughts) are deceitfully wicked—and so God searches the heart, tests the mind to give us according to the “fruit of our deeds” [Jeremiah 17:9, 10]
 
(2) our most righteous acts are like filthy menstral rags—discarded—before God’s holiness . . . withered like a leaf, our iniquities carry us away like the wind [Isaiah 64:5(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, 1 Kings 8:46, among many others]

 

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

Combat Zone Series: Part 4—Soul Via A Film Noir Lens

By SoulBreaths Author [ 13 years ago ]

 

Connected upward, yet pulled downward. 

That is the battle within your soul.

But it’s for a purpose. And it’s good.

 

© SoulBreaths.com. All rights reserved.

 

[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.]

 

GET THE SOUL BASICS FIRST. READ PARTS 1-3. START HERE: COMBAT ZONE: PART 1—YOUR SOUL

 

READING TIME: 4 MINUTES

 

Life has its ragged edges. The God-breathed soul in its earth-tethered body has a job to do. But things can get messed up, turned upside down, or totally d-e-r-a-i-l-e-d.

 

Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini may not have been thinking about the soul-body dynamic when he made Nights of Cabiria (Le Notti di Cabiria), but there is a parallel nonetheless.

 

CHARACTER’S SOUL

 

Fellini’s 1958 film is hauntingly compelling, a gritty window into the human condition. Protagonist Cabiria, a tragic-comedic, quirky personality wiggles into your heart, in the raw places. The uncomfortably-yet-so-real places we know but too often pushed down.

 

She is a . . .

darkened

lonely

wandering

soul

who wants to break loose of herself.

 

She’s a lady of the night, but her true self— her soul’s identity—longs to be freed. Her plight could just as easily be yours, mine, or anyone else’s on the planet. After all, there are trenches and stench holes even in the finest high places and people.

 

Her life is a series of abuse, being used, deceived, unloved, lost, and nearly killed (twice) for her money. From the beginning when her boyfriend pushes her into a lake and steals her purse to being set up and ridiculed at a magic show and on to the cruelest betrayal of a would-be fiancé, Cabiria streetwalks for her profession while her soul walks the inner streets of its journey, with slowly unfolding realizations.

 

Compared to her cohorts, there’s something distinctly different about Cabiria. They’re contently oblivious to their boxed-in existence. Not her. She’s clothed in an unexpected resilience. Dares to hope. Dares to find ways to be free from the civil war within and around her.

 

Swept along the Roman religious processional—priests, candle-carrying altar boys in garb, followed by suit-clad men and penitent, scarf- covered women drudging behind on their knees—Cabiria seeks religion as a cure and cries out for a miracle in her default, Roman Catholic style.

 

She stands, her face painful, nearly angelic, amid the lonely, the crippled, the children, the women and men, the poor, the forgotten.

 

Cabiria reaches up to find her soul's release.

Cabiria looks to a familiar source, her default religion, hoping to find her soul’s release.

 

But the next day, she’s sitting with a few others on the processional grounds. Scattered debris surrounds her, the aftermath of the previous evening’s religious fervor. A musician is strumming his guitar. Teens are playing ball. Her friends are eating, drinking, dancing. The reality crashes in on her.

 

We haven’t changed.

Nobody’s changed.

We’re all the same as before, just like the cripple.

Nights of Cabiria, Fellini film

 

Mise-en-Scène. Let’s look at the real elements in her story. Which, in the big-picture view, are not all that different from yours or mine on any given day.

 

She is breathed by God, yet her nefesh, one of three soul nuances, clings to the ways of her world-tethered body and follows it down spiritually deserted corridors—instead of clinging to Him. Over time, spiritual darkness consumes her soul, causing a spiritual chasm. Her soul can’t breathe or flow as it was designed to do. Despite her religious attempts, a real transformation, that coming-full-on-to-God moment in her soul, isn’t happening. She’s still looking for something spiritual amidst something physical.

 

So when the cripple isn’t healed and her friends return to their worldly ways . . . hope is MIA, nowhere to be found. And her soul is right where it was before, unable to breathe in and breathe out the truth of God.

 

CABIRIA’S SOUL MOMENT

 

The invisible iron bars of Cabiria’s physical slave market pierce through her soul-body. She dreams of freedom, but is incarcerated emotionally and spiritually wherever she goes.

 

Her cries upward are genuine. But the earthbound religious exercises leave her chained, her soul in bondage. There is only One who can deliver her, from the inside out. Will He step in, remove the veil, awaken her soul, letting her see His beauty, sparking a deep-calling-to-deeep type of miracle?

 


We can all pretend to be cynical and scheming . . .
but when we’re faced with purity and innocence,
the cynical mask drops off and all that is best in us awakens.
—Nights of Cabiria, Fellini film


 

Toward the end of the film, Cabiria is manipulated and discarded yet again, left with mutilated expectations.

 

Her soul hits ground zero. Physically, she collapses on an elevated drop-off, deep waters below. All a deft portrait of her soul-life journey.

 

But then . . . a stirring. Emptied, teary-eyed, she pulls herself up and starts to walk through the wooded area.

 

Children and young people come out and walk with her, singing, playing music, happy, filled with life.

 

And hope. A different level of hope seen through a new soul lens.

 

A mascara-stained tear rests under one eye—and slowly her visage morphs. She looks around her and sees new life bursting from the young people and music. It’s then that she turns to gaze into the camera for a few seconds.

 

She’s showing us something—something deeper that’s rising from the nuances of her soul.

Saddened eyes filled with a thousand stories.

 

The soul's awakening.

Cabiria . . . her soul’s awakening.

 

Battle-scarred emotions . . . her spirit (Soul Nuance, ruach in Hebrew) daring to stand.

 

Humbled soul . . . her previously self-driven life force (Soul Nuance, nefesh in Hebrew) finally beginning to remove itself from the worldly wanderings and tasting the “rest” within.

 

Then a frail smile breaks through . . . her breath of God, attached to Him (Soul Nuance, neshama in Hebrew) kindles her inner soul lamp.

 

And maybe . . . hope. The kind  that can only come from the One who is truth, who gives abundant life the way He designed.

 

Go further with your soul story. Read the Combat Zone’s soul basics series for ways to maneuver your soul battle. Start here:

COMBAT ZONE SERIES: PART 1—YOUR SOUL

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