To come in contact with soul is to encounter thirst and vulnerability. I often wish there was another way. I wish I could step into deep and rich places of beauty and wonder and divinity without having to experience my own need, without having to know my absolute desperation, but soul and thirst and vulnerability are intertwined.
To find soul, to press into the deep places of the heart, we must confront our thirsts, both our longings and our shortcomings. We must see them and deliver them to God. It’s only then we find the soul satisfaction we crave. But this is an intimidating process.
A scene in Lewis’ The Silver Chair moved me this week because it so beautifully captures the tension of our quest. The scene takes place by a stream and unfolds like this…
“Are you not thirsty?” said the Lion.
“I am dying of thirst,” said Jill.
“Then drink,” said the Lion.
“May I — could I — would you mind going away while I do?” said Jill.
The Lion answered this only by a look and a very low growl. And as Jill gazed at its motionless bulk, she realized that she might as well have asked the whole mountain to move aside for her convenience.
The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her nearly frantic.
“Will you promise not to — do anything to me, if I do come?” said Jill.
“I make no promise,” said the Lion.
Jill was so thirsty now that, without noticing it, she had come a step nearer.
“Do you eat girls?” she said.
“I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms,” said the Lion. It didn’t say this as if it were boasting, nor as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry. It just said it.
“I daren’t come and drink,” said Jill.
“Then you will die of thirst,” said the Lion.
“Oh dear!” said Jill, coming another step nearer. “I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.”
“There is no other stream,” said the Lion.
Jill both wanted her soul satisfied and wanted to avoid the vulnerability required to quench her thirst. She wanted to drink but not to risk the presence of Aslan.
I find the chase for soul equally tenuous at times. I want to find my soul. I want to rest in God. I want my thirsts quenched, but that means coming into his presence. That means handing over my whole life to him. That means complete vulnerability.
It is this kind of ambivalence that keeps many people from living at a soul level. For they know to live from such a deep place would require confrontation and surrender. So they avoid the intersection. They deny their thirsts. They try to satisfy their longings with bread that does not last.
But avoidance is no solution. Distraction is no solution. Neither is gritting our teeth and faking fearlessness. All of these would rob us of true life-altering, soul satisfaction. So what is the solution? The solution is to remember God’s goodness. The only way we can step into soul, with all its longings and vulnerabilities is to remember the goodness of God. Yes, he is powerful and awesome, but he is love, and he is good.
So even as our journey in to soul intimidates us, we can nonetheless sigh with relief because he is trustworthy. We can enter our heart’s deepest desires and surrender them to God because we know we will be in good hands.