Life and Breath Series – #1.
A friend I haven’t seen in years emailed me this week. Her message arrived on a day I was wrestling with a discouraging situation before the Lord. I had asked God questions and still waited for answers.
More than a decade ago, my friend heard me teach on the topic, “A Matter of Life and Breath.” Now, she asked if I still had the teaching notes. Hunting, I found them on a flash drive tucked away for years. As I read back through notes written in 2001, two things happened.
First, I saw how foundational those insights are to everything I’ve learned and taught since. Physically, you can’t do anything else if you’re not breathing, and you can’t do much at all if you’re not breathing well. Similarly, you have to breathe spiritually to experience every aspect of abundant life.
Second, in my notes on “Life and Breath,” I saw my first clear answer to the questions I had so recently posed to God. I understood a specific step to take in the situation that had so perplexed me.
Before emailing the notes to the woman who requested them, I reflected again on the insights God had first given me in a very different season of my life. As before, I felt refreshed, reinvigorated and propelled to action. As before, the Lord reminded me, “Breathe. Slowly … deeply … breathe.”
Maybe you need to breathe too. Maybe you want to help someone else who’s fighting for breath. If the latter, please take seriously the reminder given on every commercial airline flight: “Be sure to put on your own oxygen mask first.”
This post begins a “Life and Breath” series based on the teaching notes my friend’s email unearthed. As I seek to pass along what God has used so powerfully in my own life, I pray the breath of God will fill you; the life of God, flow out through you. I welcome your feedback, personal experiences and insights.
A true story
One night I lay in bed, trying to sleep. My husband, who sometimes suffers from sleep apnea, was snoring. Suddenly, I heard him take a sharp, startling, odd-sounding breath – and then, nothing. While long seconds ticked by, I heard no breathing at all.
I waited … waited … then cried his name sharply, asking, “Are you all right?”
He woke with a start. But he knew my speaking up wasn’t thoughtless or mean. I cried out because he wasn’t breathing – and breathing is vital to life.
A key truth
Here’s a key reminder: Breath is vital to life. Breath is from God.
“The Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (Gen. 2:7).
“The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life” (Job 33:4).
Here’s a key question: Which is breathing, inhaling or exhaling? (Answer: Both, of course! Breathing requires both.)
Here’s a key insight: What’s true physically is also true spiritually.
- Breath is vital to life.
- Breath comes from God.
- Breathing requires inhaling and exhaling.
Your first breath
At the moment of salvation, the moment you confess Jesus as Lord, the Holy Spirit comes to live within you. Your human spirit is quickened so that the “you” God designed can finally rise up and truly live.
“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins … But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ” (Eph. 2:1,4-5).
“When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior” (Titus 3:4-6 NLT).
In both Old and New Testament, the word spirit literally means “breath.” Thus, at the moment of salvation, when God the Spirit indwells you, you take your first breath.
After that, what happens moment by moment, Spirit-to-spirit, is literally a matter of life and death.
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Posts in the Life and Breath series: