How to Satisfy Your Soul
How to Satisfy Your Soul
Bernhard Langer was one of the best golfers of his generation, twice winning the US Masters and at one time topping the world golf rankings. He said, ‘I had… won seven events in five different continents; I was number one in the world and I had a beautiful young wife. Yet there was something missing.
‘The lifestyle we all (especially us sportsmen) are leading – it is all about money and who you are and who you know and what you have and these things aren’t really the most important things. I think people who have these things, they realise that… there is still something missing in their life and I believe that is Jesus Christ.’
The spiritual emptiness that Bernhard Langer is describing is common to all humanity. One young woman said to me that she felt there was ‘a chunk missing in her soul’. You are not simply body and mind. You are a soul created for relationship with God. How then do you satisfy your soul?
Seek God day and nightPsalm 63:1-11
Spiritual ‘food’ is just as real as physical food and it satisfies us in a way that cannot be satisfied by anything physical.
David was in the desert. He knew what physical thirst and physical hunger were like. But he also knew and experienced spiritual thirst: ‘My soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water’ (v.1). And he knew what it was like for his spiritual hunger to be satisfied: ‘My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods’ (v.5a).
His spiritual hunger and thirst are satisfied as he worships God: ‘So here I am in the place of worship, eyes open, drinking in your strength and glory’ (v.2, MSG).
He lifts his hands as an expression of adoration, reverence and surrender: ‘Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands’ (vv.3–4). Lifting up hands is the oldest gesture of prayer. As Pope Emeritus Benedict writes, ‘This gesture is the radical form of worship... To open oneself to God, to surrender oneself completely to him.’
What do you do when you can’t sleep or you have wakeful moments in the night? David says that he worships and praises God, ‘I remember You upon my bed and meditate on You in the night watches’ (v.6, AMP).
As he pours out his heart in worship day and night to God, David discovers strength and support. He writes, ‘Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me’ (vv.7–8).
Lord, I seek you today. Thank you that you satisfy my soul as with the richest of food and quench my spiritual thirst. Thank you that your love is better than life.
Communicate with God through JesusJohn 10:22-42
How do you and I communicate with God?
Communication with Jesus is communication with God. Those who met Jesus understood he was claiming to be God (v.33). When he said, ‘I and the Father are one’ (v.30) and ‘the Father is in me, and I in the Father’ (v.38), there was no ambiguity in the ears of his hearers. His opponents understood it as blasphemy – ‘because you, a mere human being, claim to be God’ (v.33) – and they picked up stones to stone him (vv.31–33).
Jesus communicated with his disciples and he continues to communicate with us. He says, ‘My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me’ (v.27). We see here the marks of a true Christian:
- Believing in Jesus
There is a contrast in this passage between those who ‘believed in Jesus’ (v.42) and those who ‘do not believe’ (vv.25–26). Belief in Jesus means believing in him when he says, ‘I am God’s Son’ (v.36) and putting your trust in him.
- Knowing Jesus
Jesus says, ‘my sheep listen to my voice. I know them…’ (v.27). To be a Christian is to recognise and follow the voice of Jesus. This is what defines a Christian – not so much knowledge about Jesus, but actually knowing him. This is then followed up by the wonderful declaration that Jesus also knows us.
- Following Jesus
Jesus says, ‘they follow me’ (v.27). It affects your life. As Jesus said elsewhere, ‘By their fruit you will recognise them’ (Matthew 7:16,20). James wrote, ‘Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead’ (James 2:17). The primary evidence of faith is love. Those who follow Jesus will follow his example of love.
Jesus promises every true Christian: ‘I give them eternal life’ (John 10:28). This is not just about quantity of life; it is also about quality. Jesus satisfies our spiritual hunger and thirst. In a relationship with Jesus we find this deep soul satisfaction that cannot be found anywhere else.
Jesus promises that this relationship with him will go on for ever. It starts now, but it is ‘eternal’ (v.28). Those who follow Jesus will ‘never perish’ (v.28). This is a gift (‘I give them eternal life’, v.28). It cannot be earned, nor can it be lost. Jesus promises, ‘no one can snatch them out of my hand… no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand’ (vv.28–29).
There may be many struggles and temptations along the way, but ultimately the hand of Jesus and the hand of the Father are engaged together in protecting you. A Christian may lose their job, their money, their family, their liberty and even their life, but they can never lose eternal life.
Thank you, Lord, that I can listen to your voice, that I can know you and that you give me eternal life. Thank you that you promise that I will never perish and that no one can snatch me out of your hand. Thank you that in this relationship I find soul satisfaction both now and forevermore.
Pour out your heart and soul to God1 Samuel 1:1-2:26
Is there something you want desperately from God?
It is almost inevitable that at times in our lives we will feel ‘distress of soul’ (1:10, AMP). Never allow bitterness to eat away in your heart – but, like Hannah, pour it out to the Lord. ‘Crushed in soul, Hannah prayed to God and cried and cried – inconsolably’ (v.10, MSG).
There is nothing more releasing than to pour out your soul before the Lord – to tell him what your problems are, rather than carrying them around yourself – and to ask him for the solution, and then to receive the peace of God (Philippians 4:6–7).
Relief from her anguish comes to Hannah long before she actually sees the answer to her prayer.
This is a beautiful picture of heartfelt prayer from the depth of the soul. ‘As she kept on praying to the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard’ (1 Samuel 1:12–13a). Eli accuses her of being drunk. She replies, ‘Not so, my lord… I am a woman who is deeply troubled… I was pouring out my soul to the Lord… I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief’ (vv.15–16).
Eli tells her, ‘Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him’ (v.17). And as she left her face was no longer downcast: ‘She ate heartily, her face radiant’ (v.18, MSG). She knew deep down that God had heard her prayer and, indeed, ‘the Lord remembered her’ (v.19). In fact, God more than answered her prayer. Not only did he give her the child she longed for, she gave birth to six children (2:21).
Meanwhile, ‘the boy Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favour with the Lord and with people’ (v.26). This is the prayer we have prayed so often for our children.
Hannah’s prayer after Samuel’s birth is a vivid demonstration of the soul satisfaction that she experiences through her relationship with God. She prays and thanks God that ‘those who were hungry hunger no more’ (v.5).
The amazing revelation in Hannah’s prayer is that the supreme source of her joy is not her child, but in the Lord. She says, ‘My heart rejoices in the Lord’ (v.1). He is the source of soul satisfaction:
‘I’m walking on air... God brings life... he rekindles burned-out lives with fresh hope, restoring dignity and respect to their lives’ (vv.1,6,8, MSG).
Lord, thank you for amazing answers to prayer, which you give when I pour out my soul to you. Thank you that sometimes you answer my prayers in remarkable ways. But whether I receive what I specifically ask for or not, thank you that you promise me your peace.
1 Samuel 1:1–2:26
I’ve always been rather worried about Hannah and Samuel. Hannah chose to give up her son. Samuel had to go off and live with an old priest and his two wicked sons – not an ideal nurturing situation.
I’ve wondered how many years Hannah could get away with feeding Samuel before he was fully weaned. Hopefully, it was at least ten! Yet, in spite of the fact that it was not an ideal parenting situation – probably not much football and family games – Samuel grew up with God, knowing God and learning to hear his voice.
It is a relief that children can do well even if our parenting is far from perfect.
Verse of the Day
‘My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me’ (John 10:27).
Bernhard Langer, http://www.thegoal.com/players/golf/langer_bernhard/langer_bernhard.html [last accessed December 2014).
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, The Spirit of the Liturgy, (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2000), pp.203-4
Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.
Scripture quotations marked (AMP) taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)
Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.