Worshipful Wednesday: Breathing the Breath

I’ve always found breathing a very spiritually-centering activity. Not in some sort of new age, emptying one’s self sense. But in a way that reminds me of who gave me breath in the first place.

When fear, doubt or anxiety threaten to overwhelm me, having a seat and taking a few deep breathes reminds me that the same God who breathed His very breath into me to give me life can handle whatever concerns I am facing today.

Several days ago, I read the following about prayer in Oswald Chambers’ devotional My Utmost for His Highest:

We think rightly or wrongly about prayer according to the conception we have in our minds about prayer. If we think of prayer as breath in our lungs and blood from our hearts, we think rightly. The blood flows ceaselessly, and breathing continues ceaselessly; we are not conscious of it, but it is always going on.

You can read the rest of the day’s devotional here.

That’s how I’ve begun to think about prayer. As a mom of young kids who works outside the home, I began to be frustrated concerning my prayer life. No matter what I did, I seemed to lack a set-aside chunk of time to devote to prayer. I needed to think outside the box and get creative. I’ve learned to make prayer more of an all-day activity.

Sometimes, I just say the name of Jesus as I go about my day. I’ve even been known to say, “Holy, holy, holy” under my breath – though I realized it wasn’t really “under my breath” when my then 5 year-old started to do the same one day in a store! I realized that prayer is simply a recognition of Who is in control, a day-long conversation with the God who is able.

Today, I’m sharing a song entitled “Breathing the Breath.” It’s a Matt Redman song. Β This song has become especially meaningful to me since losing an uncle to complications related to COPD, a condition which makes breathing difficult and for which there is no cure. The song recognizes that much of life is a “giving back” to the God who gave us everything in the first place, even in the very breath we breathe.

Here are a few of the lyrics:

We have nothing to give that didn’t first come from Your hands
We have nothing to offer You which You did not provide
Every good, perfect gift comes from Your kind and gracious heart
And all we do is give back to You what always has been Yours

Lord, we’re breathing the breath that You gave us to breathe
To worship You, to worship You
And we’re singing these songs with the very same breath
To worship You, to worship You

You can listen to the whole song on YouTube.


Freedom Friday: "I Have No Man": Looking for Help in All the Wrong Places

The Pool by Palma Giovane

Last week, I heard someone quoting John 5 on the radio and it was opened up to me in a whole new way.

Now there is in Jerusalem by the sheep gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew Bethesda, having five porticoes. In these lay a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, and withered, [waiting for the moving of the waters; for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was made well from whatever disease with which he was afflicted.]

A man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, “Do you wish to get well?”

The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me.”

The above quote is from the NASB; you can read the whole chapter here.

I’ve heard this passage discussed quite a bit in recovery circles. In fact, it’s the basis of Steve Arterburn’s challenging book “Healing is a Choice“.

And what has always stuck out to me was the man’s response. I always viewed him as sort of making excuses in his reply to Jesus. After all, he didn’t answer Jesus as to whether or not he wanted to get well; rather, he pointed out the reasons why he couldn’t get well.

But on this occasion, I was most struck by the fact that the help he needed was right in front of his face, but he was unwilling or unable to see and accept it.

Do we sometimes ask the wrong people for help? Are the people who are available to best support us right in front of our faces, and yet we don’t reach out?

A few months back, I was feeling a bit lonely and undersupported. I was lamenting this fact to Roy: all my friends are busy, have kids, have jobs, live far away, boo-hoo, no one loves me πŸ™ He reminded me of my pregnancy with Bear, that I had a list of women who I emailed on a regular basis with updates. What was stopping me from doing that again?

What was stopping me was that I hadn’t thought of it!

I have 3 women I am accountable to, so as Roy suggested, I started emailing them regularly with an update to ask for prayer. Two of them live far, far away (as my 3.5 year-old son would say), and one of them lives about an hour away, so while I don’t see them often, I know I have their support in prayer.

One of my default settings is to feel abandoned and rejected. I think that’s part of why it’s a challenge for me to reach out. But I can’t complain about having inadequate support if I never actually asked anyone to support me. So I’ve also started asking others for support & help, even if they are likely busy and will say no. I can make an active choice not to allow past rejection & abandonment keep me from having deep, connected, supportive relationships.

Maybe the man at the pool had a similar default setting as I do (I’ll be talking about “default settings” thoroughly in a future Freedom Friday, but just imagine it’s the place and space you find yourself falling back to). It wouldn’t be surprising, given that he’d been sick with something for 38 years, and no one was helping him get into the pool (likely the only way he thought he’d ever be healed). There was nothing wrong with his plan (to have someone lift him into the pool), but he was so fixated on that plan that he didn’t see the help that was available right in front of him.

Where have you been looking for help? All the right places, or all the wrong places? Have you been so fixated on a particular plan that you are sure would work that you can’t see that the help you need is readily available to you?

Travels & Illness

We safely made the trip up to His Mansion today, and Roy did go along, though I think it made his illness worse. And he has to go back to work tomorrow. Poor guy πŸ™

I’m building up my list of blogs to read, and I’m specifically looking for more blogs on finances, simple living, and food πŸ™‚ By “finances”, I don’t mean “get rich as quick as you can and don’t care who you step on to get there”. I don’t really have time to explain what I mean as there’s a Bear trying to climb into my lap, but I mean more like simple living/”Your Money or Your Life”-type stuff.