Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons to bless the people of Israel with this special blessing: ‘May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.’ Whenever Aaron and his sons bless the people of Israel in my name, I myself will bless them.” (Numbers 6:22-27)
I used to be an avid consumer of self-help books. I knew that I was falling short in my life in many ways, I knew that there were dark and hurting parts inside of me, but I didn’t know what to do about it. So, I would scan bookstores for books on topics that I was struggling with. Books on weight loss, relationships, success and motivational were frequent purchases. I was hungry for something more, but I didn’t know what it was or how to get it.
A lot of self-help books employ some aspect of psychology. Psychology is a science-based approach to understanding the mind and behaviour. There are a lot of good and helpful things that can come to us through psychology, and I was helped to an extent by the self-help books that I read, but I needed something more.
The word “psychology” comes from two Greek words: psykhē which means “breath, wind, soul” and logia which means “the study of; knowledge about.” I needed more than knowledge about my mind, what I needed was healing in my soul.
The human soul is like the breath of life that animates our carbon-based framework, it is the wind in our sails that propels us forward, and it is the internal guidance system that keeps us on track, heading in the direction we desire to go. When there is something wrong in our soul, it throws our entire life out of whack. As the Psalmist writes, “When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long. Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat.” (Psalm 32:3-4)
Though being brutally honest with oneself and admitting our own faults and failures to ourselves, to others and to God is an essential part of the Good Life, it is not its essence. The essence of the Good Life is a relationship with God. Sin drove a wedge between God and all humanity, but God the Father sent his Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to remove that wedge by paying the full cost of forgiveness for all sins for all people for all time, past, present and future.
Everyone who trusts in Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins has that forgiveness through him. This is not us wishing for forgiveness and then Jesus granting our wish like a genie. This is us simply receiving a priceless gift that someone else has already paid for in full. With that gift in hand, we are able to enter into a living relationship with our loving God.
In that relationship, we experience the blessing of God which is the ethos of life with God. He blesses us with his unconditional acceptance, infinite love, divine favour, eternal protection and all-encompassing peace. This is what heals our soul, satisfies its hunger and redirects it onto a new path of life with God. Our soul needs constant recalibration which is why ongoing confession is a necessary part of our life with God. With the assurance of God’s love and forgiveness, we have the courage we need to lay down our pride and our self-justifying excuses and let God lift us up into more new life with him. As is written in a following Psalm: We put our hope in the Lord. He is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in you alone. (Psalm 33:20-22)
Because of Jesus we know that we have forgiveness for all our sins. Because of Jesus we know that God unconditionally loves us. Because of Jesus we can live life with a soul that is saturated with God’s love, favour, forgiveness and peace. That is the Good Life and Jesus is the Way to that Life. Amen.
Dear Jesus, help me to trust in the complete forgiveness you give me. Open up my soul to receive more of your love, acceptance, favour and peace so that it may be healed. Amen.
(Note: Rest is a very important part of the rhythm God intended for us to have in our life. With that in mind, Pastor James will be taking a summer break from writing the mid-week devotions with the intention of resuming them in the fall. God’s blessings as you rest and recreate this summer!)