1053) Take Time for Your Soul

By Alvin Rogness, The Word for Every Day, page 15, Augsburg Publishing House, 1981.

     I hadn’t seen him in two years.  During the years I had lived in this Midwestern city I had often eaten in his cafe.  We became close friends.  Coming as a young immigrant from Greece, he had worked long and hard until his eating place was the finest in town.  Now, at 70, he was beginning to turn things over to his son.  Seated with me at the table, he reflected on how well things had gone for him.  He paused, tears formed in his eyes, and he said, “But, Al, I haven’t taken time for my soul.”

     He was a successful man.  He was reasonably rich.  The community esteemed him.  What else did he need?    .

     Jesus once put it bluntly, “What does it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”

     It is as if each of us has a bag to fill.  We use our years to fill it with good things– family, friends, money and property, honor, perhaps power.  Then comes death, and we must leave the bags behind.  If we have accumulated our cargo at the expense of our souls, then what?

     The soul itself has needs, quite apart from food, shelter— even honor.   The soul has a life with God.  It feeds on the Word and the sacraments.  It grows through prayer and praise.  It becomes strong as it reaches out to help others.

     It is good for each of us to take stock.  What if we were to die today?  What would we leave behind?  Memories that are cherished by our families and friends, we hope.  Maybe some property or trust funds for our children.  Perhaps the fruits of our labors, whether in business, in the home, in our professions.  But we do leave it all behind!

     Stripped of it all, we go on to live forever with our Lord– or without Him.  And it is his hope that we may have used the swift years on earth to prepare for life on the other side.  If we have let that which is eternal about us wither and die from oversight, neglect, or even repudiation, the loss is enormous.

      This is what my friend meant in his sad remark, “But I haven’t taken time for my soul.”

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Mark 8:36-37  —  (Jesus said), “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?  Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?”

Luke 12:16-21  —  (Jesus) told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest.  He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do?  I have no place to store my crops.’  Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do.  I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain.  And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years.  Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’  But God said to him, ‘You fool!  This very night your life will be demanded from you.  Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’  This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

II Timothy 1:6a  —  I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you…

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Eternal God, I pray that you do not allow me to so undervalue myself as to give away my dear and precious soul for nothing; and all the world is nothing, if the soul must be given for it.  Preserve therefore, my soul, O Lord, because it belongs to Thee, and preserve my body because it belongs to my soul.  Thou alone dost steer my boat through all its voyage, especially when it comes to a narrow current, or to a dangerous fall of waters.  Thou cares for the preservation of my body in all the ways of my life.  In the straits of death, I pray that you enlarge Thy Providence towards me, so that no illness or agony may shake or benumb my soul.  Be with me in all sickness so that, being used by Thy hand, I may be content with any bed of Thy making.  Amen.

–John Donne  (1572-1631)  (adapted)

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The Rich Fool, Eugene Burnand  (1850-1921)

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