Apr 28, 2013

Is It Well With Your Soul?

isitwellI woke up thinking about a very popular  Christian hymn a few days ago and it has caused me to reflect on areas in my own life and to ask myself the topic of this message. ‘Is it well with my soul?’


The first stanza of this hymn is as follows:


When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.


Trials and tests are going to come in all of our lives. It is a given that not everything is going to work out the way we hoped or planned. There will be bumps in the road. There will be winds blowing trees down in our yard. There will be circumstances that will get all out of control and will leave us wondering, ‘how can this happen?’ The lightning will crash around us, the rain and hail will pound at our dwelling place; it is a fact, there will be storms.


But most of what happens is just wind and noise. It is not meant for our destruction but rather for changing the atmosphere.


We can attempt to protect every part of our lives but we cannot control the storms or when they take place. It is simply a part of this journey through life.


How Do You See The Battle?


The giant had come to terrorize the Children of the Most High.  He led the Philistines against the Israelites  with the intent of causing as much fear and carnage as he could.  And he was succeeding. Not because he had a better army or he was so big that he could not be beaten but because of the fear that gripped the minds of the Israelite army. Even their own leader who was said to stand head and shoulders about everyone else,  was afraid to stand up to the giant.


He was too big. He would take everything. He would play games with us and feed us to the dogs. It was too big of  a battle, so instead of taking on the giant, they cowered in fear. The battle was just too big.


But then a little shepherd boy enters the scene. He has already fought some other adversaries and won a few battles. When he was out there tending to the sheep, he faced off with a lion and a bear to keep the sheep safe. He knew that most enemies were only as big as their bark. And when he came to visit his brothers in the Israelite camp, he could not comprehend what kind of battle could make the mighty army hide in fear. Instead of running away with them, or hiding because of the situation, he decided it was worth taking on the battle.


He grabbed a few rocks, picked up a slingshot, and went to do battle against the giant. He knew that he could succeed because he was not controlled by his circumstance. We all know the story.  He spoke to his battle, aimed a stone, and took out the giant. When the rest of the crowd saw what happened they all of  a sudden became emboldened to fight off the rest of the enemy. The enemy never even knew what hit them. And the battle was won. The difference was not that the battle became easier, but that they saw it through a new vision.



Who Is In Charge?


A lot of people will just go with the flow. Nothing seems to bother them. It looks like they are the smartest ones, because regardless of what happens, they seem unfazed.  Wherever the river takes them is where they are going to end up. Some people will hesitate to step into the water at all because the idea of the waves and the rocks, and the corners seem to be out of control. It is scary and too big of a task to take on. And then there are those who pick up a paddle, chart a direction, and despite the rapids, the rocks, the water coming over the bow, they determine where they are headed.


We have a choice. We can either let circumstance dictate how life goes for us and react when we face situations, or we can take charge and be determined and let our lives control the way we react to the battle.  It is not that some have bigger battles, or that others are so much stronger but rather the way we react and the way we adjust to the things that life throws at us.


Sure it is easy to go with the flow, but you always have to adapt to where life and circumstance takes you. You can keep from making the hard decisions because it just seems too hard, or you can figure out what you want and plot a course to get you there.  Why settle for something less than what you want, when a little patience and you will get what you desired. 


I had a situation like that myself this week. I have been wanting a new couch. I checked sources online and locally. I knew what I wanted.  And then I went into a local store and a big sale sign caught my eye. I checked out the couch that was on sale even though it wasn’t totally what I had in mind.  The salesperson measured it for me, told me they could make me a good deal. I thought about it, walked away, but then came back later that day to get it. I thought  I had found  something I could live with. It wasn’t what I wanted but it was good enough. It had potential.


However, when it was delivered and set up, it was too big for the room. I could not maneuver around it. I couldn’t figure out a way to move my other furniture around to make it work.  I had paid cash, so I was stuck with something that didn’t fit my needs, and if I had only waited a few more days, I might have found exactly what was right for me. I let my impatience, and desire for something to fill the void sway me.



Possibilities, Turns, and Destination


If we are afraid to trust it becomes impossible for us to reach our goal.  If we just go along with whatever life throws at us we will come to a destination, but its not likely to be where we expected or wanted.  We need to plan what we want to happen and move toward that goal to end up where we want. We will for sure have twists and turns along the way. We may get knocked down and the waves may crash over us, but we will get there. It will happen. We just have to trust that it is all going to be okay.


That is what faith is all about.


We cannot let circumstance or trials and test control us. Sure we cannot plan for everything that will come along but we can be prepared to accept what we cannot change and stand  firm in our goal until we reach it. If God has promised, it will come to pass.  He will not hold back  the blessings He has promised. But there are moments we have to shield ourselves or use our own abilities to control the direction we are headed in. Yes, God is in control but he still gives us free will in what we choose to do. ‘He is faithful that has promised.’ Hebrews 10:23


But we have to remember if what we want does not seem to be happening when we want, we will have another chance.

In life we get many chances to chart a new course, change direction, and be restored if we have been knocked off our course. Get back up; dust yourself off; try again.  However, when it comes to our soul we only get one chance.



Is It Well With Your Soul?


The bible says, ‘behold I come quickly and my reward is with me.’  While our lives can have many ups and downs and change directions many times, our soul has only one opportunity to reach its destination. There are other final destinations it can reach but wherever it ends up, it stays. There is no other chance to change course. So I ask again, ‘Is it well with your soul?’


If you take a look at your life and the things that you hold dear; if you recall the way you have treated others; or those moments in life where we all do not make the right choices or say the right thing; the people we have hurt either intentionally or unintended and never even so much as said sorry? Is it well with your soul?


Maybe there are areas in our life we wish we could have a do over, or a mulligan and we have failed to take a moment to talk to those who might have been hurt by our insensitivity  or at least repent. Have we done what we should.  Now I realize not all of us ‘sin’ the big sins, but the one that is most overlooked is self righteousness.  It seems we gloss over the neglecting of the elderly and the infirm, the poor and the lost. We all have areas in our lives where we can do better, change course before it is too late. Make it well with your soul. One chance is all we get.