Twelve thousand times a day we indulge ourselves; we respond to the most compelling physical yearning we will ever feel. We breathe.
Every eight seconds, on average, we exhaust our brain’s supply of oxygen needed to regulate our body’s functioning. We consume the last of the oxygen that our heart requires to keep pumping, that our muscles need to keep moving, that numerous biochemical processes demand in order to make energy available to us. Sure, we can stretch that out every now and then by holding our breath for a particular reason, but we can’t do it for long. It’s enough to say that every few seconds when we inhale that delicious breath of air, we are satisfying a quintessential yearning to live.
But how often do we think about it? How often do we stop and focus on the serious brink of death we approach just prior to taking the next breath? There, we’ve done it again – we’ve taken another breath, this time less mindlessly than we usually do. From this place of greater awareness of the gracious endowment of our Creator, let’s think a little further and see how deeply He is, and wants to be, involved.
In the Genesis account of creation we find that “The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”(Genesis 2:7). That first breath came from God.
But it doesn’t stop there. When Jesus is referred to as the “life-giving spirit” (I Corinthians 15:45), that word spirit is ‘pneuma’ in the original language. It means ‘breath’ or ‘wind’ or ‘spirit’. The life-giving breath that sustains followers of Jesus is Jesus Himself. His Spirit surrounds us like air and permeates our inner being like the breath we breathe. The more we ‘breathe’ Him the greater becomes our longing to inhale Him again. We yearn to live the expansive eternal life our spirit was designed to live.
It can go the other way too, though. We can muffle our instinct to breathe that Holy Wind. We can, by degrees, suffocate that natural yearning to live the eternal life. We can interrupt that spiritual feedback loop that tries to alert us to the fact that we are becoming hypoxic, breathless, dangerously lacking in the spirit-life we truly need.
So let’s allow this huge reminder we ignore every day – our earthly air-breathing – to turn our thoughts to the spiritual breathing we need to be doing too. Breathe a prayer every time you notice you are inhaling earth’s oxygen-rich atmosphere. Draw thoughts of Jesus deep within your spirit and let Him permeate your being. See if your spirit doesn’t warm to the flush of saturation with His presence. Breathe deep.
“…my soul pants for you, O God.” – Psalm 42:1