This article originally appeared in the Charlote Observer 5/26/29 – copyright “Friends of Vance Havner” 2022
Jesus in describing to His disciples just what hard times lay ahead of them, added very significantly, “In your patience possess ye your souls.”
It is as if He said: “You will fare hard in the days to come. You will be persecuted and hated and tried. But don’t get excited amid your troubles. Keep calm and patient and move along coolly among your adversaries and you will possess your souls.”
What does it mean to possess our souls? It means to retain our integrity, to sustain the unity and coherence of our inner life, to not go to pieces in the face of storm and stress.
We live in a feverish, tempestuous age when a thousand conflicting forces pull at our spirits and threaten to tear us into shreds. It is easy to lose our souls.
I do not mean here just what the professional evangelist means by losing our souls. This is in a different connection. Whenever we give way to evil influences and allow our integrity to be broken and breaches torn in our consistency and conduct, then we lose our souls. Then we need to have our souls restored. David knew this experience for he said, “He restoreth my soul.”
But preventives are better than remedies and it is better to go live that we do not lose our souls and need to have them restored. Happy is the man who moves calmly and serenely in the midst of life, whose heart is fixed on the eternal and who does not break in the face of adversity nor leave the even tenor of his way every time bad weather or a toothache or a criticism or an unpleasant situation or a doubt comes along, such a man possesses his soul.
I know a doctor whose smooth balance and restful serenity has always charmed me as it has others. He never grows fretful or excited or fidgety in the midst of the most upsetting conditions. When others are frantic and tense he moves about poised and even, talking in a soft voice, his very peacefulness helping to settle the raw and taut nerves of others. Such an attitude is not only indispensable to his profession but to his life – and to the lives of all of us.
Jesus was a perfect example of this spirit. Nothing upset Him. He was not in a hurry. He moved through al sorts of bedeviled situations and kept His soul. And at last, when enemies were hounding Him and the Cross loomed near He said to His excited followers, “My peace I give to you.”
In this neurotic, high-strung age when so many lives run out in suicide, insanity, crime and failure we need seriously to set about possessing our souls. The only way out is to assume the Master’s spirit and practice it daily until our own feverish self-life is displaced by His Presence. It is not acquired in a day but the most nervous and spoiled personality can become en-Christed by continually practice of the Presence of God. Begin living like Jesus instead of yourself. It will be unreal at first and you will forget and lapse into your old ways often at the beginning. But gradually His Life will supplant yours until you can say, “Not I but Christ in me.”
Other things help. Avoid the modern rush as much ass possible. Spend all the time outdoors you can. Nature is a great soother and restorer. Take time to be still and meditate. Look after your body for its weaknesses, harass the soul-life. And keep “looking unto Jesus,” not yourself.
So shall you retain the integrity of your character, keep your spirit intact, develop a coordinated personality and “possess your soul.”

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