The day I arm wrestled with one of my sons, it was apparent on which side of the table the real strength lay. Amused, he let me struggle for a bit–rather than flattening me in a heartbeat, which he could have easily done. I’m not the same girl who could once whoop all the 8th grade boys at arm wrestling–except for Jeb the chore-strong farm boy.
In this season of life, I’m focusing on some different aspects of strength: heart health, mobility that allows me to garden, trot down the road with the dog every day, and enjoy my grandkids’ antics. Even more important is the need for soul strength. Like wisdom and daily provision, strength of soul is one of the gifts God holds out to his children for the asking. David the psalm-writing king bears witness:
On the day I called, you answered me;
my strength of soul you increased.” (Psalm 138:3)
Even so, there’s something in our human nature that sends us looking for what we need in all the wrong places. Author Lucinda Secrest McDowell offers this definition of soul strength: “the deep commitment and even deeper empowerment” that wars against insecurity, the poison of comparison, and the fear of obsolesence. (xiv)
The “long obedience in the same direction” where soul strength is born is often discovered in the wilderness, and in Soul Strong: 7 Keys to a Vibrant Life McDowell shares seven decisions that have enabled her to live vibrantly and soul strong. Our ability to live loved and to be authentic are rooted in a muscular understanding of God’s love. His unwavering presence invites us to dwell deep, to meet him heart to heart as we trust his sovereign control of the universe.
As we allow our scars to open new doors of service, we discern God’s way of overcoming pain. The soul strong are continually learning to extend kindness, throwing grace, mercy, and compassion into their world like confetti. Others are blessed by our stories of God’s faithfulness, and, honestly, Lucinda is an unmatched story-teller, and has masterfully interspersed her teaching with tales like beads on a string. I am finding myself encouraged to unearth my own stories, to reflect on all the ways they provide evidence of God’s goodness.
When believers live soul strong, we point others to Jesus. It’s “not a perfect life, more a passionate pursuit!” (7) And the best news of all is that God stands ready to pour his own strength into us for the journey.
Many thanks to New Hope Publishers for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which, of course, is offered freely and with honesty.
Grace and peace to you,
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