When I’m running, I always wear ASICS trainers! ASICS are recommended by podiatrists & favoured by runners everywhere! (Apparently there’s been at least one pair of ASICS on the winner’s podium of every Olympic marathon!)
The brand ASICS is an acronym for the Latin phrase ‘anima sana in corpore sano’
It means a ‘healthy soul in a healthy body’
That sounds like idyllic perfection! But it’s not a new concept. In the New Testament John wrote:
‘I pray that you may prosper in every way and that your body may keep well, even as I know your soul keeps well and prospers’ (3 John 3 -AMP)
We are familiar with the concept of a healthy body. And, it is important to look after our bodies. Paul reminded Christians in Corinth ‘Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives among you?’ (1 Corinthians 3:16 NIVUK)
Just as we look after our bodies, we need to tend to our souls.
We expend a lot of effort & energy on our bodies-diet & exercise & of course clothes, hair & make-up . However, in our instant, modern world, a healthy soul is a somewhat more abstract, alien concept!
CS Lewis said, ‘You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body’
Our bodies are our outer wrapping. Our souls are the very essence of our being.
But truthfully, most of us spend very little time thinking about our souls. But we’ve missed the point if we focus only on our bodies, that last only for our brief lifetime of ‘3 score year&10’
‘What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?
Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?’
(Mark 8:36 &37 NIV)
We cannot ignore & overlook our eternal souls. For nothing is worth more than our soul. Our soul is the part of us that goes on forever & ever. Our soul is immortal. It has everlasting, eternal value.
The Bible says ‘He [God] has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart’ (Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV)
He has planted the seed of eternity in us. Our life & our time here on earth is like a water droplet compared to the vast ocean of eternity. After death, our soul lives on forever, either with God, in heaven, or without Him, in torment. That’s not a popular or PC statement, but it’s what God says in the Bible.
‘Life is the soul’s nursery, its training place for the destinies of eternity’ (William Makepeace Thackeray)
Each of us are created for eternity. CS Lewis wrote ‘If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world’
We are made in God’s image. Each of us have a God shaped hole at our core, in our souls- a space that only He can fill. Deep within us all there is a longing, a restless yearning, that nothing or no-one but the Eternal God can satisfy.
St Augustine said,‘ Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee’
In the beginning we were created perfect in body, mind & soul. The world was an idyllic perfect paradise. But our human souls were darkened, forever tainted & stained by sin, back in the Garden of Eden, as a result of disobedience. Only God redeem & restore our soul.
“Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth;
for I am God, and there is no other.”
The Bible says ‘Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.’ (John 17:3 NIV) For, God wants us to ‘seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.’ (Acts 17:27 NIV)
Maybe in the past, you did turn to God in faith. Maybe over time, life has got cluttered, your soul has been distracted. God desires to have a close relationship with you again:
God says ‘I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist.Return to me, for I have redeemed you.” (Isaiah 44:22) So, ‘Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord.’ (Lamentations 3:40)
But once we have turned, or returned to God,how do we nourish our souls?
‘Faith and prayer are the vitamins of the soul; man cannot live in health without them’ (Mahalia Jackson)
In Jeremiah 17:7-8 the Bible says:
‘But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.’
What a lovely picture of vitality! If we nourish our souls, our whole lives will flourish from the core of who we are, from who we were created to be!
Jesus said in John 15, “Remain in Me” or “Abide in me” –like the vine & its branches. Staying close to God is the key to a healthy soul.
Close to Him, our soul flourishes & we are vibrant & fruitful.
Apart from Him, we can do nothing- like a dry twig lying on the ground, separated from the main plant.
Jesus also said, “Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me-watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly” (Matt 11:28-30 MSG)
Those soothing verses are like a spa for the soul!
We can make our own individual choices for a healthy body, but a healthy soul comes from turning to God, abiding in Him & finding true rest there. God alone can restore & redeem our souls-after all it was He who created us & planted eternity within.
‘The soul, like the body, lives by what it feeds on’ (Josiah Gilbert Holland) So, we need to make time, & spend time feeding our souls. For, ‘Food for the body is not enough. There must be food for the soul’ (Dorothy Day)
Psalm 1 echoes the sentiments of the verses in Jeremiah. It mentions those ‘whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on His law day and night’ (v2) ‘That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.’(v3)
We need to ‘delight’ in God’s Word- to soak in His truth & replenish our spiritual energy by faith & prayer. If we nourish our souls by being in a relationship with God, our whole lives will flourish. We will be the person we were created to be.
So,‘I pray that you may prosper in every way and that your body may keep well, even as I know your soul keeps well and prospers’ (3 John 3 -AMP)