If you are going to understand what God is speaking in your spirit . . . if you are going to draw on His power to really walk with Him. . .
the essential you has to engage with God, in what He is doing.
The Bible calls this essential aspect of who we are “the new man”, the new nature.” It is the only aspect of our self that has the capacity to walk in faith — to experience for real the unbelievable power of God operating in our life.
Bill and I were flying to San Francisco for a meeting, where he had a measure of responsibility. But as I sat beside him on that plane, my head back and eyes closed, I sensed that I had a job to perform, as well.
The next evening we attended a board dinner, hosting the convention’s speakers. I was seated next to Billy Mills, the Native American gold medalist and world record holder from the 1964 Olympics.  Easily engaging in meaningful conversation, he shared his heart as well as his ache for youth growing up on the reservations.
The next morning, Bill left our hotel room early and I stayed behind to have my quiet time. As I read my Scripture for that day, one paragraph stood out from all the rest. It held a message I was sure was meant for Billy Mills. I knew that getting this to him was the job I had been brought to San Francisco to do.
Copying that Scripture into a brief note, I hurried to dress so I could reach the convention center in time. I knew from our conversation the night before that he was going to speak and then leave the meeting immediately after. But, I had no idea how I was going to get the note into his hands.
Walking into the massive, darkened auditorium, my eyes had to adjust from the bright daylight outside. Thousands of people filled nearly every seat, as the morning session was well under way. I knew he was going to speak before the break, and I was going to somehow have to find him before then. But where was he? Absolutely dependent on God’s leading, I let go of trying to figure it out. Pushing past my doubt and emotion to the core of my inner confidence, I prayed.
As I asked for help, I felt a strong magnetic pull on my left shoulder drawing me slightly left and slightly ahead. This “drawing” was not entirely weird, but I had never felt it this strongly before. Angling toward the far wall of the auditorium, I scanned dozens of faces of those quietly listening to the proceedings from the back of the auditorium. Only as I got closer could my eyes pick out the facial features to help me find him. And there he was . . . right in front of me. Billy smiled, extending his hand. Pressing my note into his palm, I gave him a hug and then walked to the seat Bill was holding for me.
This kind of thing does not happen every day, but frequently enough to make me want — more than anything else — to live out of my essential self. When I don’t, my ability to walk as closely with God reduces to almost nothing.
Throughout Scripture this potential aspect of ourselves is held out to us as the only means by which we are going to be able to:
- Come into intimate union with God
- Understand how God is leading us
- Experience His redemptive power in our life, and
- Fulfill our destiny
We kill ourselves trying to do and be all the right things — but, out of the wrong part of ourselves — while our natural capacity for everything God wants to do and be through us remains untapped.
Getting down to our essential self
We are a soul, with a spiritual core, having a mind, enmeshed in flesh, housed in a body; but none of these comprises our essential self.
Our soul is the heart of who we are, the seat of our emotions and the source of our will. It is precious in God’s sight. He redeems, restores, and saves our soul from death.
My soul languishes and grows faint for Your salvation, but I hope in Your word.
Ps 119:81, The Amplified Bible
Our souls are wounded by life and come into this world already ravaged. Like a willful child, the soul is a repository of beautiful possibility — but its ranting is not trustworthy. It has a deep and valid need of both love and significance.
If we are out of touch with our essential self, we will default to our soul, unable to experience what we are meant for.  Strong souls can hold up under great pressure, but their very strength can hinder the emergence of the essential self.
Like a dirt road that has fallen into total disrepair, filled with ruts and potholes, eroded, no longer able to bear traffic — our unredeemed soul does not have the capacity to bear the glory of God.
Our spirit is the bright core of our being, planted into the heart of our soul. It is the part of us that can hear God, that communicates with the unseen, that monitors the soul — speaking to it, guiding and comforting it. In many of his Psalms, David’s spirit comforts and speaks to his soul:
Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with his mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me [ceased from fretting].
Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me?
Our spirit is the receptacle for revelation from God, meant to take authority over our soul. It communicates what it hears and sees to the mind and soul.
Our mind is a network of fine connections — alive — continually transferring information between spirit, soul and body. It links every aspect of our self with everything we encounter and learn from. This network of our mind carries all our thoughts: the misconstrued understanding stemming from our soul, images and beliefs from the world, as well as the thoughts from our spirit.
- “The mind of the flesh” is the mind under the control of the flesh
- “The mind of the spirit” is the mind under the control of the spirit
God speaks to us Spirit-to-spirit. When we “hear” God, our spirit is conveying God’s mind into our mind.
So let those [of us] who are spiritually mature and full-grown have this mind and hold these convictions; and if in any respect you have a different attitude of mind, God will make that clear to you also.
For who has known or understood the mind (the counsels and purposes) of the Lord so as to guide and instruct Him and give Him knowledge? But we have the mind of Christ (the Messiah) and do hold the thoughts (feelings and purposes) of His heart.
1 Cor 2:16
Our mind is the battleground where light and dark war for our essential self.
The flesh is not us, but our soul is enmeshed in the flesh. It is awful. It is wretched. It is absolutely dead to God and resistant to Spirit. It is alive with the dark energy of sin that appeals to us through it. The flesh feels deliciously comfortable and familiar to the soul, when it is disoriented to God. It falsely comforts the soul in a totally destructive way — the same way that alcohol and drugs will “comfort” but destroy us if they can.
The flesh is not our body — not our soul, not us — but it is the craven worst, seeking to express itself through us, having the goal to destroy our soul and our essential self with it.
The flesh exerts its influence through the body, through the soul, to gain the mind.
Now the mind of the flesh [which is sense and reason without the Holy Spirit] is death [death that comprises all the miseries arising from sin, both here and hereafter]. But the mind of the [Holy] Spirit is life and [soul] peace [both now and forever].
Thank God, the flesh cannot touch the citadel of our spirit.
The Essential Self
None of these (soul, spirit, mind, flesh, body) is our essential self — having the capacity to walk in faith, drawing upon God’s power.
Our essential self is our redeemed soul in submission to our spirit — our spirit filled with God’s Spirit, the flesh having been put to death, its dark energy no longer reigning.
In this condition:
- our mind is spirit controlled
- the power of sin in our flesh is denied
- our soul revives and heals and begins to function as it is meant to
- our bodies express the healing taking place in our souls
Our essential self is the new man, our spiritual man.
The absence of God’s power and presence in our life is due to one thing — the functional absence of our essential self, the missing capacity of the new man. The moment we engage with our essential self, we find ourself walking with God.
We do not need to learn how to walk with God; rather,
we need to learn how to engage our essential self.
The spiritual man automatically walks with God all the time, without stumbling, in power, ecstatic, filled with wonder and gratitude. This new man easily forgives. When we stumble, when we fail, when we struggle — it is because we’ve defaulted to our soul under fleshy control, keeping our spiritual man from being engaged.
Those incredible moments when we experience the power and presence of God — in those moments, our essential self is functioning and engaged.
I was kneeling on the plywood subfloor of our new home under construction, wearing jeans and my husband’s over-sized, paint-splattered shirt as I rubbed stain into the raw wood of the living room cabinet.
All of a sudden, He was there . . . Jesus . . . just off to my left . . . invisible, but absolutely there. Spirit-to-spirit He spoke to me, His thought coursing through my mind, “As I am giving you a greater and more glorious house, I am giving you a greater and more glorious marriage.”
It was like telling a barren woman, who has given up after years of trying, that she is going to have a baby. In the years of trying to work on our marriage, I had grown lean from disappointment. Neither of us was about to give up on our marriage or our family, but I lived with grief, longing for more between Bill and me.
In that moment, as my Lord gave me that promise, I absolutely believed Him. Wonder and gratitude spiraled in a bright stream from my spirit, filling my mind and soul with ecstatic expectation.
When our house was finally built, I remember making our bed that first night, half believing and wondering if we would wake up our first morning in our new home to a new and glorious marriage. It didn’t happen.
Refusing to allow the disappointment in my soul to take over, I clung to what Jesus had said and wouldn’t listen to anything else.
A year passed. And another. And another. And then, one day I threw myself on God. Why? You said . . . and it hasn’t happened.
How God answered me and continues to teach me will take this whole book to write. But it all boils down to this —
He promise is good, and He is faithful
I have to become the woman capable of receiving that promise
The promise of that greater and more glorious marriage cannot be received by — and was not made to — the craven, cowardly, fallen, wimpy, feel sorry for herself person I can be. He made that promise to the essential me, the new man, the me He died for, the spiritual man He summons forward by every promise He makes.
God makes His promises to our essential self — to who we are in Him.
Am I there yet? I only wish. But I can tell you this, when I am living out of essential self, my greater and more glorious marriage, with the only man I’ve ever wanted, blooms like an exquisite desert rose.
Everything God wants to do and be for us depends upon
our essential self engaging with Him in what He is doing.
 “Billy Mills is the National Spokesperson for Running Strong for American Indian Youth®. An Oglala Lakota (Sioux) who was raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, Billy earned a track scholarship to the University of Kansas and later served as an Officer in the United States Marine Corps. At the 1964 Olympics, Billy Mills shocked the world when he came from behind to win the gold medal in the 10k race. At the time, he set a world record of 28 m 24.4s and he is still the only American to ever win a gold medal in the 10,000 meters . . . Today Billy travels over 300 days every year. He visits American Indian communities throughout the U.S. and speaks to American Indian youth about healthy lifestyles and taking pride in their heritage. “ http://www.indianyouth.org/billymills.html
 The Spiritual Man, Watchman Nee