Proverbs 4:23 Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.
The first thing that catches my attention in this Proverb is the word “keep”. Other translations say “guard your heart”, “keep vigilant watch over your heart”. Keep is a verb, an action word, a word that requires something of me. The implication is that the care of our heart, our soul, will not just happen, it won’t just fall on us or surprise us. We are to actively, with vigilance, pursue the health of our soul.
I recently watched a great TED Talk by Simon Sinek about how great leaders inspire action. His central point is that great leaders start with and lead out of the question “Why?”. We are most compelled by the right WHY. That center has far greater motivating power than WHAT or HOW.
Apparently the writer of Proverbs know this too because he gives us the Why for the what of keeping vigilant watch of our hearts. Our heart, our soul is the very spring of our life! - the source and center of who we are. If that spring runs dry, becomes clogged, is contaminated, my soul shrivels. That feels like a pretty compelling WHY. For me the even more compelling WHY is that as I do this, as I care for my soul, I get to experience more of my good, good Father! That’s what I really want! That is motivation, energy for me to the vigilant action of soul care.
Now, the danger in this is to think that it all depends on me and how well I perform, how well I care for my heart. “Don’t screw this up!” is the subtle voice I hear in my head.
I am writing this section at the end of all the other writing and thought and it caught me this morning that I might have begun with Step 2 inadvertently - how do I care for my soul.
I was gently and clearly reminded that the reality is that God is the one who does the caring, the nurture - always. He is the initiator. He loves first. It is my task (maybe responsibility?) to put myself in places, in rhythms to experience His care.
It seems like a good next step might be to think about and identify your deepest WHY for caring for your soul. What motivates you to keep at it? How can you take action, even a small step, towards that? For me it involves making a priority of sitting quietly with Jesus early in the morning and asking Him for more intimacy with Him, for more of Him. It may be deleting some things from your schedule and life that are working against your soul. It may be making some time daily for reflection and conversation with God - turn the radio off on your commute to or from work. Maybe it’s finding a tool like TheAbbey app to help guide you and prompt you.
My prayer for us is that God would help us to remember always that our caring for our souls is allowing Him to care for them and that we would be hungrier and thirstier for Them (Father, Son, Spirit).