May 23, 2021
Have you ever longed to catch your breath?
Perhaps you are physically exercising and in your run it is mile 7 (or mile 1 or perhaps you’ve only made it the two blocks to park) and you long to catch your breath. Everything starts to hurt. There is not enough breath circulating to get that life-giving oxygen to your muscles and the lactic acid starts to build up and you ache everywhere till you get to the point that you simply have to stop and catch your breath for your body— your life— is crying out— breathe. For without that breath you simply cannot persevere in finishing the race that is set before you.
Perhaps your lungs or heart or body is damaged or hurt and it does not take running, perhaps not even walking, for you long to catch your breath. And yet, when you do breathe… it hurts. Now perhaps the shallow breaths— those you can do— and if you keep doing those you can avoid the pain— some— and yet within you know that life is to be more abundant. And so you do the breathing treatments, the exercises, the therapy, and you discipline yourself to breathe more deeply.
You choose to breath deep even when it is easier to stay shallow. Even when it hurts —for you know that the way through the valley is through it. You know as the prophet Ezekiel did that in order for we mortals to “[live], and [stand] on our feet” our dry bones need Breath.
Perhaps you have kept it together and kept it together and kept others together and you’ve done it for longer than you thought possible or probable and, and… you long to catch your breath. You are languishing or running ragged. You are like the Navy spouse who has single handedly parented three small children on a remote Pacific Island while your sailor has been deployed these past nine months during a pandemic and there have been no playdates or relief sitters. Or you are like the mourner who lost their beloved, and so you have busied yourself with paperwork and boxes and cards and helping others, and work, and nearly anything and everything to keep yourself up here, for the moment you catch your breath… and breathe deep… those depths hurt.
Mortals, we both long to catch our breath and breathe deep, and we choose the shallows because with the deep comes pain and fear and change.
Mortals… Beloveds… I hope that we breathe deep. As Jesus said to Simon the fisherman before his life changed and he became his disciple Peter: “put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” As those who long for their lives to sing out with power to the glory of God, don’t sing shallow, delve to the bowels of your body, fill yourself with breath, for only then sing out with exaltation.
Spiritually speaking, shallow breathing—shallow being— means that we are restricting the Spirit. Perhaps we let the Spirit in, but only so far or only so much… and in doing so we attempt to prevent Her from filling us fully with the life-giving breath that we need to flourish. The Holy Spirit, the pneuma in Greek, the Ruah in Hebrew, the very same wind that blew over the waters in creation and breathed into humus of the earth making us human and wildly rushed into house of the disciples on the day of Pentecost filling them full of the Holy Sprit and empowering the church to proclaim the Gospel— is the Breath of God. Even though there may be pain or fear and change— don’t restrict the breath of God by staying shallow. Catch. Your. Breath. Breathe deeply.
I long for us to catch our breath not only persevere through the valleys and pain, but to live full abundant enthusiastic lives. Lives with nets full of fish. Lives that sing out with exaltation. Lives with enthusiasm. (as the word’s (Greek) origins remind us)… lives that are en-theos… in-God… inspired and filled with God.
Beloved, God has poured out the gift of the Holy Spirit upon us. Catch the Breath of God. Breathe Deep. Life will be changed for God is changing lives.