The most famous psalm speaks of the restoring of our soul.
“The LORD is my shepherd; I will not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for the sake of His name.” Psalm 23:1-3
The original word translated ‘soul’ speaks of our whole life, as in us being a living soul. Yet it also carries the idea of our inner self, what the New Testament writers would have meant by ‘soul’ (psyche).
What would it mean to have our ‘soul’ restored?
Well, let’s first consider what it means to have our whole life restored. Restoration is the process of bringing something back to original condition, or to the manufacturer’s settings. It could be seen as a ‘reset’ button to clear away accumulated junk and malfunctions.
Our lives often become complicated by our unwise choices or reactions, or by being put in difficult situations where there is some loss no matter what we do. Our perception of our self can be damaged, along with our relationships with others. We can be dogged by guilt and shame, misgivings and frustration. We can be depressed, defeated, disillusioned and despairing.
Along with that we can have our capacities and social standing damaged or pigeonholed. Our career and income potential can be reduced. We can lose confidence and the respect of others. We can be sidelined, misunderstood and falsely accused.
Once in any such negative situation, being ‘restored’ is a wonderful promise. Imagine having all those things reversed in your life. Imagine moving from being disregarded to being respected and sought after. Imagine having things given back to you, like opportunities or reputation and strong positive relationships. Imagine feeling free and positive, confident of being loved.
All of that is embodied in the blessing of having Christ as our shepherd.
“The Lord, Jesus Christ, is my Shepherd and He gives me back my life!”
At the deeper personal level the restored soul focusses on our inner thoughts and feelings. For most of us our greatest enemy is in our head and heart. When we feel defeated, rejected, worthless, hopeless, discouraged, ashamed, insecure, afraid of failure, afraid of rejection, and the like, we lock ourselves away from the wider options life and God have for us.
Our ‘soul’, as in our inner self, can be trampled on, defeated, twisted and distorted, enslaved, fearful, tormented, ashamed, insecure and the like. Once we are in such a condition there is little we can do for ourselves.
The West’s increasing reliance on psychologists indicates the enormous scope of this inner personal wrangling. A very high percentage of people feel the need to get help for the internal ‘soul’ issues of their life. Most psychologists don’t offer a quick fix, one-visit solution. Instead people adopt long-term counsellors and psychologists.
Yet your wonderful Shepherd, Jesus, will ‘restore’ your soul.
Imagine what that might mean. Imagine finding confidence where you were once insecure. Imagine enjoying being the person God made you to be. Imagine being unashamed of your mistakes and limitations, as you submit them to God. Imagine feeling completely secure on the inside, ready to take on any challenge at any time. Imagine feeling free to celebrate the successes of others, knowing that you too are successful in what you do. Imagine being completely free from fears of failure or fears of rejection, not worrying about people’s opinions, since you have God’s approval.
How would such changes change you? How would it change the way you relate to your family and loved ones, and those around you? How would it change your potential for the future?
Those changes and many others like them are what come from having Jesus Christ as your Good Shepherd.
“The Lord, Jesus Christ, is my Shepherd and He gives me complete freedom within.”
God wants you to be restored in your broader life circumstances and in your inner thought life. God wants to ‘restore your soul’.
Having a shepherd’s business card in your files or tucked under you pillow does not make that shepherd your shepherd. So knowing about Jesus and even being a Christian does not make Jesus your Shepherd. A shepherd is one the sheep follow, not just look at from a distance.
In the same way you need to allow the Lord to lead you, following His instructions and receiving His grace. The restoration Christ promises us as our Good Shepherd comes when we functionally let Him be our Shepherd.
Most western Christians probably fall into the idea that by giving mental assent to Christian truth they are practicing that truth. You have probably reflected on Christ as your Shepherd. What is needed is to yield to Him as your Shepherd.
A Christian child who knows they need to submit to their parents still has to rein in their selfish impulses and practically submit. A Christian wife who knows she is to submit to her husband still has to rein in her selfish impulses and practically submit.
A Christian who knows the Lord is their Shepherd still has to practically rein in their selfish impulses and practically submit to the Lord.
I encourage you to address that in your life, since the blessings are so wonderful.
The Lord is your shepherd, and he restores your soul. Let Him do that for you today.