contemplative spirituality

The Enemy of Our Soul

“Every step closer to my soul excites the scornful laughter of my devils, those cowardly ear-whisperers and poison-mixers.” -C. G. Jung
“We are not unaware of the Devil’s schemes” (2 Cor. 2:11).

In 1978, spiritual writer Richard Foster wrote: “In contemporary society our Adversary majors in three things: noise, hurry, and crowds. If he can keep us engaged in ‘muchness’ and ‘manyness’ he will rest satisfied.” If that was his assessment of the 1970s (before the internet, smart phones and social media), then we are in deep, DEEP trouble today!

Still, twenty centuries earlier, we read of a Jewish sage from Nazareth who “would often slip away to the wilderness and pray” (Luke 5:16), and spoke of an unmatched intimacy and connectedness to his Heavenly Father. This same Jesus, whom we desire to follow, also warned of living in such a way that we may “gain the whole world” but tragically “lose our own soul” in the process.

I don’t think he’s talking about losing our “salvation,” but neglecting the interior “soul work” he sent the Holy Spirit to begin here and now—setting us free to experience the “life that is truly life” (John 10:10).

For the past year or so, I have been learning from the spiritual masters—ancient and modern—about how to better care for and strengthen our soul, the Self that is “hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3). This is a demanding and, at times, humiliating process. To paraphrase Jesus’ matter-of-fact zinger, “If you want to find your (true) life, you first need to lose it (i.e., the false self).

As a pastor, I desire more than anything right now to invite others into this “Pilgrimage of the Soul.” Consider the words of Swiss Psychologist Carl Jung and let me know if you want to be part of this journey:

“People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own souls. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious. The latter procedure, however, is disagreeable and therefore not popular.”

Thank God, the true Light has come into the world, has a Name, and will help us face the shadows. Let’s not let our Adversary delay us one more minute. “For we are not unaware of his schemes” (2 Cor. 2:11).

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