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The Full Story

We go to the dentist for our teeth, the doctor for our bodily health, the gym to stay athletically fit, maybe even a counselor for our mental well being, but how many of us take intentional time to care for our spirit?  Genesis 2:7 gives us one of the clearest depictions of what it means to be fully human, "then the LORD God formed the man of dust form the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living soul."

The LORD first takes the ingredients of creation and beautifully crafts the material body of the human creature (The Hebrew word for 'form' is yatzer and is used of a potter who forms vessels out of clay; throughout the creation account God is presented as a skilled artisan going about His work).  But for the material body which is formed from the ground to become animated with life, more is required.  So God intimately imbues the body with spirit by breathing into it (The phrase 'breath of life" was a standing expression for "spirit" in ancient Egypt, which stands as the primary interpretive backcloth to the Genesis account). The direct result of intermingling the material with spirit is the production of a living soul.  We might summarize Genesis 2:7 as follows:


Body + Spirit = Living Soul


We are spirit, soul, and body, and we must care for each.  Caring for the body is simpler to address: nutrition, sleep, and exercise.  Caring for soul and spirit is less distinct. The Hebrew word for 'soul' is nephesh and is translated in the Greek by the word psuche from which we derive our English words psyche and psychology.  In biblical parlance, the soul is the inner life of conscious thoughts, feelings and the will.  It is often these inner aspects of being (our 'soulish' parts) that serve as the primary focus of counseling and psychology.  And yet in addition to being soulish and bodily creatures, we are also deeply spiritual.

In biblical anthropology a healthy and fully alive human creature is one whose spirit is connected and empowered by the very Spirit of God, which then interfaces with the soul (thoughts, feeling, will) animating the body (words and actions) to express our divine likeness out into the world and our relationships.  After the sin of the first couple, however, our spirits were severed from God's Spirit.  A spiritual death occurred resulting in the soul no longer being enlivened by the human spirit connected to God's spirit, but taking its cues from the broken world and the fleshly desires, which leads to chaos, meaninglessness, disintegration, and ultimately bodily death.   

God was not content to leave us in this state.  Even early on in Genesis He promises that one day he will restore the lost glory of humanity.  He makes good on His promise through the death, life, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus.  It is no small thing that when Jesus is resurrected and first appears to His disciples, he breathes on them and says "Receive the Holy Spirit" (John 20:22).  The Greek word for "breath upon" is the same word used in the Greek translation of Genesis 2:7 for God breathing the breath of life into the newly formed bodily creature (The word is emphusao).  The whole point of Jesus' coming was (and is) to restore life by rekindling the connection between the human spirit and God's Spirit, thus enlivening the human soul and body transforming the whole person "into the same image from glory to glory, for this is from the Lord who is Spirit" (2 Corinthians 3:18).  

Paul has this same three part aspect of human being and restoration in mind when closes his letter to the Church of the Thessalonians writing, "Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it" (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24). 

Spiritual direction focuses on this connection between your spirit and God's Spirit and your relationship with God.  

Answering the call to reconnect our spirits to God's Spirit and continually be filled with Him is the focus of spiritual direction.  Sitting down with a qualified spiritual director will help you:

  • Reconnect and strengthen the connection between your spirit and God's Spirit

  • Grow in awareness of the presence of God in your everyday life experiencing each moment as a gift of God giving Himself to you

  • Learn to discern and surrender to God's leading and will for your life, for as Paul writes, "All who are led the Spirit of God are sons of God" (Romans 8:14)

  • Become more integrated in spirit, body and soul

  • Be continually transformed from one degree of glory to the next into the image of God's son becoming fully alive and the best version of yourself, until that day when you are fully made new. 




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