This phrase, from the 23rd Psalm, that psalm that begins with, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not (be in) want,” - this phrase does not describe a typical relationship between a shepherd and a sheep. Not to offend animal lovers, but a sheep doesn’t have a soul. And even if it did, the shepherd could do precious little to restore it.
Most people shouldn’t even believe that there is such a thing as a soul. If you are a naturalist, then all of our human functions should be able to be explained physically and materially. Every decision; every desire - is solely a product of things like neural impulses and chemical reactions. In fact, for the naturalist, or, the anti-supernaturalist, he/she should not even permit the use of the word ‘psychology,’ the ‘study of the soul.’
But many of us are not mere naturalists. We believe that there is something more, so that when the surgeon cracks us open and fails to find a soul, we believe that it is there anyway, immaterial and spiritual, similar to when she goes in to look at your brain and fails to find a mind. His failure to find it does not prove its absence. He/she needs to look with another lens.
And so some, denying the presence of a soul, disregard its need for restoration. And others, believing that there is such a thing, wonder how such restoration can be accomplished.
In children’s Sunday School, where some of the most formidable questions are posed, we watched a digital restoration of great-grandma’s childhood photograph. The photo stock was worn and wrinkled. The image was dull and fuzzy. The color was drab. But with painstaking and detailed work (we watched a time-lapse), that photo was restored so much that great-grandma would have fit right in with the children in the class. Through all that restorative work, she had come, visually, to life.
I do not believe restoring a soul is digital, or much at all like a photo restoration. But what is it like? I picture my soul like a leathery lung, not material, but spiritual. It is the spiritual organ by which we relate to God. And yet, through the pollution of our surroundings, and the pollution of our own person, this lung has been severely damaged. It has become unresponsive. It is not able to apprehend spiritual truth. It does not breathe heavenly air. Until it is restored.
And so, that leathery lung must be made, spiritually, supple and pink once again. It has to be immersed and marinated in a regenerative fluid that will bring back that long-forgotten, oft-forsaken intimacy with a truth and a person that we have tried to ignore.
As far as I know, and this deserves further searching, the Bible does not describe this process of the restoration of the soul. It does, however, speak plainly of the giving of a new (spiritual) heart. This is accomplished as the Holy Spirit applies the redemptive work of Christ to believers. Perhaps, while the new heart is given by grace, the soul is restored by love, as the orphaned and recalcitrant sinner is converted, and as this discovery of the love of God takes place.
He restores my soul. He immerses and marinates my soul with His love.