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David Powlison on Quieting Your Soul

January 8, 2009

Do you suffer from a “loud” soul?  David Powlison writes, in his book Seeing With New Eyes, that a noisy soul stems from our desire to “control the uncontrollable”.  We desire to manipulate and control other people’s attitudes and choices.  We are paralyzed by fear of tomorrow or next week.  We desire to be liked or respected in such a way that we manipulate circumstances and reality itself.  There is no peace in our soul because we are constantly grasping for air, desperately trying to control the uncontrollable.  Powlison suggests that our biggest problem is “proud self will.”  That is a significant statement and he suggests some remedies:

First, identify your ladders that we climb that lead to nowhere:

(1) Where do you raise your ladders of achievement?  How do you go for victory?
(2) Where do you climb up ladders of aquisition?  Where do you say “if only”?
(3) Where do you race up ladders of appetite?  Where do you gratify your need for ease or control? Where do you gratify your lust or hunger or superiority?
(4) Where do you scuttle up ladders of avoidance?  Where do you get away from povery, rejection, suffering, and people?

Second, start persuing certainties.

(1) You are called to hope in the Lord.
(2) Your hope in the Lord gives the certainties of forgiveness of our iniquities, lovingkindness, abundant redemption, the joy of communion with the God of the universe.

When you replace your desires for the uncontrolables to the certainties, peace comes to fill the anxious soul.  Powlison likens the anxious soul, referencing to Psalm 131, to a nursing child.  When a hungry nursing child is in the lap of his mother, he gropes, roots around, and squirms anxiously for satisfaction.  But a weaned can sit peacefully in his mother’s lap.  Gaining the peaceful composure of a weaned child is the picture of a peaceful heart learning rest in his hope in the Lord.

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