Psalm 23: 2-3, “…He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul.” (New Living)
Our souls are eternal.
The origin of our souls says a lot about how our souls are meant to function. “Then the Lord God formed the man of the dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature,” Genesis 2:7. God’s breath is the essential characteristic of the human soul. Our souls have their source in God, they depend on Him and long for Him. God’s essence is in our being.
Adam and Eve experienced the original environment for the human soul. Let’s take a look at the atmosphere that is most helpful for the human soul. God set mankind in an environment for our souls to thrive. There was no lack in the garden. Eden was a paradise unlike anything we will see until Jesus returns to planet earth. God meticulously prepared everything in the garden with love and tender care to be the ideal home for Adam and Eve to have intimacy with God and with one another. This garden tabernacle was filled with trees, flowers, birds, fish, creatures, livestock, wild animals, and a river which flowed from Eden separating into four headwaters. Paradise. Perfection. Freedom. Rest. Enjoyment. Peace. Oneness.
This is what our souls were made for. Even now, I am sitting on my deck, surrounded by the sights and sounds of summer while writing this. There is a creek behind our house and I can hear the trickling of the stream, trees full of green leaves border the creek area, colorful flowers in my containers and the wild flowers by the creek add contrast to the green. I hear the birds chirping, the breeze is light and smells like summer. This setting is nothing like Eden and yet, everyday I am praising God for the beauty of creation. My soul is satisfied. Content. At rest.
God is sending a message about what our souls need. God could have designed any environment for mankind’s soul to thrive and He chose a garden. What does that say about what our souls need? We need relaxation, rest, pleasure, and enjoyment. These are imperative for a healthy soul.
Our souls are eternal. They go on living. How can we describe the soul? The soul is the intertwining of the mind and the heart. It is the complete activity of the inner person. It is the center of all our knowing and believing. The soul is the representation of who we are on the inside, the summation of our thoughts and feelings. The heart, mind and soul are three distinct concepts that we can use to describe our inner selves, and though each is different, they all operate within the same sphere of who we are, the soul.
Look at Paul’s prayer for the believers at Thessalonica, “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,” I Thessalonians 5:23. In this prayer, the soul represents the inner man (heart and mind intertwined). Because God created us, He is the only one who can refresh and satisfy the inner man, the soul.
Dallas Willard, in his book, Renovation of the Heart, says, “Our soul is like an inner stream of water, which gives strength, direction and harmony to every other element of life. When that stream is as it should be, we are constantly refreshed and exuberant in all we do, because our soul itself is then profusely rooted in the vastness of God and His Kingdom, including nature; and all else within us is enlivened and directed by that stream.”
The origin of mankind was a garden and the culmination of mankind will be a garden. The last chapter of the book of Revelation is titled: Eden Restored. “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb, down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations,” Revelation 22: 1-3.
Who wants refreshment for their soul? Whose soul is thirsty? “The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come!’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come!’ Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life,” Revelation 22:17. Anyone thirsty come! Anyone desperate come! Drink of the source of living water! God is the source. He is the fountain living water. He alone knows how to refresh and satisfy our souls.