These words from Psalm 121 struck me:
“The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul…”
What does it mean to preserve my soul?
Jesus preserved Peter’s soul. Remember He told Peter, “Indeed, Satan has asked for you that he may sift you as wheat…” Since Peter ended up being the first spokesperson for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, we know that Jesus did, indeed, preserve his soul through the horrifying evil of the cross experience. Peter denied Christ, yes, but he ultimately repented and kept the faith.
How did Christ preserve Simon Peter’s soul? Did he say, “Don’t worry, Peter. I’ll keep Satan away from you”? No. Instead Jesus said, “…but I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren” (Luke 22:32).
I’m sure Satan’s attack, and Peter’s ultimate choice to grow in faith (rather than to remain in pride and fear) changed him. It humbled him, gave him greater insight into the suffering and sin of others, greater compassion, more love for the Lord because of His undeserved forgiveness, stronger backbone to rise up as the speaker for Pentecost, to strengthen his brethren.
The story of petrified wood helps us understand what preserve means:
Imagine a tree, just before Noah’s flood, rooted in a forest, growing undisturbed for hundreds of years. Then one day, a roaring deluge of floodwater breaks the trunk from its roots, snaps off its branches and churns it into water-laden logs. The currents easily plow up rock and earth and grind it into mineral-laden mud that buries the logs deep into their grave. The moisture in the mud saturates the wood’s fibers and transports microscopic grains of rock and mineral into each cell.
In the meantime, the flood waters settle back into the oceans, so the mud that enshrouds the logs eventually dries. As the water evaporates, the mineral particles crystallize inside the cell walls of the wood tissue, molding to the exact structure of the original log. The old tissue eventually dies away, but the new, strong rock structure remains intact down to microscopic detail.
Wow! Not only preservation, but transformation! And God does that to our souls, saturating us with His Spirit and word, transforming us “by the renewing of [our] mind,” strengthening our backbone of faith so we can stand and fulfill His purpose for our lives, that we may “prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2).
But all this breaking and snapping and churning and plowing and grinding and burying hurts!
As we “look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the JOY that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God,” we become more like Him, overcoming as He overcame—for the JOY He sets before us…
“To him who OVERCOMES I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also OVERCAME and sate down with My Father on His throne.”
How do we allow the Lord to preserve our soul as He teaches us to overcome?
- PRAY as Jesus did, that our faith would increase (Luke 22:32)
- Do as Paul and Silas did and SING behind those prison walls (Acts 16:25)
- Practice LISTENING to the voice of the Good Shepherd (John 10:3-4,27) and the Spirit inspiration of the word of God (Heb 4:11-12)
- Be LED OF THE SPIRIT (Rom 8:14)
- Walk in OBEDIENCE to Christ and His word, remaining saturated in His love (John 15:9-15)
- Choose FORGIVENESS instead of revenge (Luke 6:37)
- Walk in HUMBLENESS instead of insisting on your rights (I Pet 5:5-9)
- Practice FAITH because His words will not fail (2 Cor 5:4-7)
- ENCOURAGE each other with “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord,
- GIVING THANKS always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ
- SUBMITTING to one another in the fear of God” (Eph 5:19-21)
These things I have spoken to you,
that in Me you may have peace.
In the world you will have tribulation;
but be of good cheer,
I have overcome the world.
– John 16:33
*All scripture quotations taken from the New King James Version of the Holy Bible.