Think about this question: What is the most important thing in your life?
I would really love to hear your answers to this. You might immediately think about a possession like house, bank account, cars etc; but pretty quickly a wise person will say ”no, those are not most important”. Then you might think about the people in your life: your spouse, or your parents, or your children…yes they are much more important than stuff… for sure.
But let’s go a little deeper with the thought, what is it that is so important that you literally cannot live without it. Things like food – A healthy person can live about three weeks without it. And water – you might make it a week or so. What about air? How long can you hold your breath without gasping for another one? A minute? Ninety seconds? The most well trained athletes can only go a few minutes at best.
So I’m going to jump out on a pretty strong limb here and say that there is nothing more important to us on a moment by moment basis than breathing. And how often do you think about it? Unless you are having a physical issue like a cold, or something more serious, you probably just go about your daily routine without one thought about breathing. Which is as it should be; I am so thankful that I don’t have to consciously work at inhaling and exhaling.
But now that you are thinking about it, isn’t it wonderful? Just sit there for a moment and take a long, slow breath of fresh air. It is such a pleasure that we take for granted every moment of every day. In comes the oxygen that your body must have, and out goes the carbon dioxide that you produce and need to get rid of. What a miracle machine this body is! Praise the Lord for every breath!
Genesis 2:7 says, “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Have you ever thought that from the moment that God breathed into Adam until now it has not stopped? The breath of life continued in his children to every generation until this very moment. The breath you are taking now began with that first one that God breathed into Adam. Human life began with that first one, and will continue as long as God gives it. But that’s not all there is to the story.
We are more than a body. When God breathed life into man, since God is Spirit, He breathed a spirit life into us, but when man sinned and separated himself from God that spirit part of man had no more source for life and it died. Just as your body must have air to live, our spirits must breathe in the Spirit of God in order to live. Remember that after Jesus rose from the dead He appeared to His disciples, and in that room the Bible says He breathed on them, and said “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22). The word for “Spirit” is also used for “breath”, and “wind” throughout the New Testament. It follows then that when the Holy Spirit was given on Pentecost that they heard the sound of “A Mighty Rushing Wind” (Acts 2:2). In my opinion they heard the very breath of God!
So it is literally the Breath of God, the Holy Spirit, that gives Life to our dead spirit when we turn from our sins and ask Jesus to forgive us and come into our lives. And it is that Life, that strength and power, that makes it possible for us to live our lives in a way that pleases God; the inward strength to see and choose the right things in our everyday lives.
I would like to share one more thought before I close. It’s a practice that I read about many years ago in a pamphlet from Campus Crusade which I have found to be extremely helpful. It’s called “Spiritual Breathing”. You see, we need to be refreshed by God constantly in our lives to maintain that relationship with Him. The relationship can be very much like breathing. As I am talking with Him I can confess my sins and release them to Him as I exhale my breath. Then as I breathe in the fresh air, I can also be aware that I am breathing in the Holy Spirit—taking in fresh and new power from God that fills me and strengthens me. He lets me know that He is with me, that He forgives me, that He gives a joy and peace that only He can give, and that the world apart from Him can never know!
I hope this will help you as it has me. The next time you feel like God is a long way off- take a deep breath, He’s right there!