Smith, 38, who pastors the multi-campus City Church in Bellevue, Washington, told The Christian Post in a recent interview that his latest book How’s Your Soul: Why Everything That Matters Starts With The Inside You was in part born out of the pain of his father’s death and his struggle to grieve that loss properly.
About three months after his passing, Smith recounted, “I started to recognize some signals inside that were unhealthy. I wanted to escape, I wanted to run away. I was exhausted, not just physically but emotionally, mental fatigue. I started to dread the things that I used to love, and I realized that I just wasn’t ok.”
After a few months of leaning into that inner turmoil and engaging the heartache with family apart from his chuch responsibilities, Smith realized the importance of self-care in order live from the inside out. In How’s Your Soul, he explores the scriptural concept of “all that is in within us,” because the soul can be difficult to define; it cannot be reduced to simply one’s mind, will, and emotions, he says.
“David said, ‘Let all that is within me bless his holy name,'” Smith noted, adding that it is worth revisiting “synonyms in the ancient narrative, you look at heart, you look at mind, soul.”
“I do believe that we are made up of three parts — body, soul and spirit. Part of that is probably a portrait of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, that is indicative of who designed us and who made us,” he added.
Part of that means embracing mystery, an uncomfortable endeavor particularly for Christians bent on having every aspect of their theology nailed down and completely figured out. Smith believes that is an illusion.
“We’re all going to miss things, and the scripture is inexhaustible, so this idea that we can nail [it] down I think that’s our human desire to have control and to feel like because we have it nailed down anything that happens we can explain.”
CP asked Smith what practical tools he finds most useful in taking care of the soul.
“I believe we need to talk to our souls,” Smith said. “So much of our culture is predicated on feeling. What I feel must be ultimate truth. And if that’s what I feel then that’s not only what I’m going to do, that’s what I am.”
King David provides a contrast to this postmodern phenomenon, he explained.
“I see David questioning his soul, questioning his feelings, questioning his impulses, his will, his desires,” Smith said.
“In Psalm 42 he says ‘Why are you downcast, oh my soul, why are you in turmoil within me,’ but then he says ‘Hope in God, I shall yet praise him. My salvation and my God. So David is not only questioning his soul, not just talking to his feelings. Then he’s commanding them. He’s declaring this is what I know to be true.”
To do this successfully one has to not only learn to listen to the turmoil within, but also to the Holy Spirit and live from the place of his counsel.
“We’ve lost mystery in the church,” Smith continued.
“We’ve lost this idea that we are so limited in our understanding in our perspective in that God is so big, his ways are higher than our ways, his thoughts are higher than our thoughts. And I’m not saying we all become mystics, but I think there is so much of the spiritual dynamo of following God, creator of heaven and earth, that we have kind of left this to spiritualists and people who don’t believe in Jesus who live with more mystery and wonder than we do.”
But the Bible is not uncomfortable with mystery, Smith notes, referencing Jeremiah 17:19 which reads: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”
“And, of course, the answer is: only the One who made it,” Smith said. “So I think there is an element of mystery to our relationship with God that should produce wonder, dependence [on Him], an adventure.”
With all of the tumultuous events going on around the globe that are shaking the paradigms of people, Smith contends that Christians would do well to recover a practice they do not realize belongs to them: meditation.
“So many believers seem to think that it is some act of [another] religion but meditation belongs to us,” Smith said.
In it’s truest sense meditation actually means “mutter.”
“This is what David did. Meditation is muttering to yourself the promises of God,” Smith said.
CP asked Smith what he sees God doing in 2017.
“I believe it will be a year where we recover wonder, that the wonder of God and the majesty and sovereignty of God is going to be seen more. And the message of Jesus is going to produce wonder in the earth, and people will be mesmerized by this wonderful Savior, not a dogma, not principles, but a Person,” he concluded.