Keep looking at the bandaged place. That’s where the light enters you. ~ RUMI1
Every journey needs a guide.
If you’re about to learn a language, pick up an instrument, hone your skills in a career, or try a new sport, the best way to improve is to find someone who’s done it — someone who’s a step or two or ten ahead of you and can mentor you toward excellence.
It’s fascinating how, in most areas of our lives, we freely seek help. (“Hey, Siri?”) We’ll reach for our phones to find the closest Chick-fil-A, to figure out what a Christopher Nolan movie means, or how to best season a steak. It’s almost second nature to ask Google about anything. But when it comes to something as consequential as caring for our souls, we often wing it on our own.
Why is that?
Maybe it’s hyper individualism; we’re a nation of self-starters and bootstrappers, so we love to project the illusion we can do it alone. It could be that our culture idolizes physical bodies while disregarding vigilance for the unseen self. Or maybe it’s because we intuitively know our souls are unhealthy, but we’re too busy, afraid, or insecure to slow down and confront what’s bruised inside. Peter Scazzero, exploring this question of identity, wrote in Emotionally Healthy Spirituality: “The vast majority of us go to our graves without knowing who we are.”2
An outcome of having a mentor for the soul, however, is how that person helps us discover who we are. Seasoned leaders know the terrain of the interior life, and because they’ve made the journey themselves, they’re atlases of experience and wisdom.
A famous Jewish rabbi once remarked: “Your house should be a meeting place for wise people. Attach yourself to the dust of their feet. And drink thirstily of their words.”3
You’re probably familiar with the idea of sitting at someone’s feet to learn. Think of Mary, who sat at Jesus’ feet (Luke 10:39), or Paul, who learned “at the feet of Gamaliel” (Acts 22:3 NKJV). In that culture, investing time at someone’s feet was a posture of discipleship; you were there as an apprentice, to be educated and enlightened. You were powdered in their dust because as you trekked with them from village to village, hanging on their every word, the dust from their sandals covered you. You knew it was a good day if at the end you looked down and you were filthy.
When you came to know Jesus, you weren’t just rescued from your old path; you were invited into a new spiritual journey. Jesus’ first words to His disciples were:
Come, follow Me. — Matthew 4:19
Following implies growth, change, learning, and giving space in our lives for God to refine and shape us until
Christ is formed in [us]. — Galatians 4:19
Every day is an opportunity to be covered in His dust.
This journey wasn’t meant to be traveled alone, but rather with people who are dustier than you. Do you have someone like this in your life? A coach? A mentor? A pastor? A spiritual director?
- Like a garden, your soul can’t flourish if there is no one to tend it.
You need people who can roll up their sleeves, get their hands dirty, and dig into the thorny issues, hardened ground, and weed-infested patches you’d rather ignore.
Because God knows soul-care is arduous work, He gives us the gift of others. He also gives us the gift of His Word.
Every time you read the Bible, you’re introduced to men and women who’ve gone before you and navigated dark and grueling seasons. They’ve battled weariness, discouragement, soul-numbing depression, and betrayal, but were sustained by God’s unabating grace. The highs and lows of their lives are examples for us to learn from (Philippians 3:17).
For me, that dusty person is Peter. He was quite the colorful character: feisty, assertive, courageous, insecure, and notoriously unpredictable. One moment he was walking on water, and the next he was drowning. One moment he boldly declared Jesus was the Messiah, and the next he lectured Jesus for predicting the cross. Jesus’ reply? “Get behind me, Satan” (Matthew 16:23). Can you imagine? Peter was doubtless called a lot of things in life, but Satan was a new low. Did you know Peter was the only disciple who was interrupted by the entire Trinity? It’s true. (See also Matthew 17:5 and Acts 10:44.) Peter was the only one who denied he knew Jesus. But he was also the only one Jesus pursued to restore back to ministry (John 21).
Peter’s journey of the soul is one of calling, near catastrophic burn-out, and a slow migration toward flourishing. In his early days, people called him Simon. Simon means “to hear.” Later he was given the name Peter, which means “rock.” It’s an interesting combination of names because Jesus once used these words in a parable to describe inner growth. He said the spiritually unformed person “hears” the word but does nothing with it. Their life is like someone who builds a house on sand. When winds and rain come, it collapses because it has no foundation. But the person who obeys God’s Word builds a house on a rock. Even though the storms of life beat against it, the house endures because its foundation is robust (Matthew 7:24–27).
Every one of us is on a journey from Simon to Peter. It’s a rigorous, humbling, and exhilarating path to walk, and we’ll need all the help we can get. But that’s why God gives us guides. Peter is wonderful to learn from because his life exemplifies that no matter how fractured our lives are, they can still become rocks. Look how far he came: he began as an exhausted, impetuous fisherman with an undeveloped soul, but he ended as a mature, Spirit-drenched disciple in a prison cell writing about seven ways our souls can flourish. That’s quite the turnaround.
Let’s sit at His feet awhile and see what we can learn.
1.Rumi, The Essential Rumi, trans. Coleman Barks (New York: HarperCollins, 1995), 142.
Excerpted with permission from Your Longing Has a Name by Dominic Done, copyright Dominic Done.
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Do you have a mentor? Who is helping you tend to your soul and grow in your faith? Get in the Word of God today! It's the Bread of Life! Come share your thoughts with us. We want to hear from you. ~ Devotionals Daily