If you could replace your life with the one of your dreams, wouldn’t you be happy? In How’s Your Soul? Judah Smith seeks to confront that yearning head-on: He is “a bit concerned that in our excitement about prospering in our “everyday affairs”… we can end up glossing over the part about the health of our souls,” (page 6).
He is on a mission in this book to explain that peace, happiness, joy, and fulfillment can be found on the inside, where God has designed them to be found in relationship with him. Because, Smith argues, that is what we are all really looking for.
The book describes the journey we each must go on to find contentment in our soul. First, Smith says the place the soul is found is the center of who I am and that it is “the real me.” In chapter two he guides us to the Garden of Eden and says that our souls need rest, responsibility, restraint, and relationship to be content.
From there, he shows how I can’t always trust my feelings when I get “Surprised by my Soul” then how to deal with storms in life in “An Anchor for My Soul” (hint: the answer is Jesus). “A Quiet Soul” is his strongest chapter, which explores what it means to know your unique identity in Christ. Judah also reminds us that an effective life follows God in a position of surrender and is lived in community.
The last three chapters guide us from thought to action, reminding us what being a new creation in Christ means, how we progress in sanctification (and graciously reminding us we are on a journey), and how to organize your life around the reality of heaven.
If you have read any other book by Judah Smith before, you know humor is a focal feature in his writing, and in that regard How’s Your Soul? does not disappoint. Smith’s humorous anecdotes and quips are sundry, and among the many times nodding in agreement with his seemingly universally funny stories I also laughed out loud once or twice. His wit is appreciated, except for the couple of times he finds a rabbit trail and chases it to its bitter end. In the end, his playful approach to a topic that is not always easy to broach is worth the time spent saying “Why the heck does he include that?”
How’s Your Soul? accomplishes what it sets out to do. At various points while reading, I thought about how my soul is not always at rest and considered what heart-level changes need to occur in my life. This book is a heart-check, plain and simple. It isn’t going to say anything you haven’t heard before, but I don’t think that is Smith’s purpose. He just asks us to recall what it means to know that our inner us desires relationship with God and remind us that the cultivation of that relationship is the most important thing.
Rory Jones is a student at George W. Truett Theological Seminary. He enjoys cooking with his wife, Elise, and playing board games.