This past week has been a struggle of a different kind for me as I’ve been housebound with a viral infection that in turn triggered my asthma. Asthma is a chronic disease of the airways of the lungs caused by inflammation which swells and irritates the airways, restricting the airflow to and from the lungs. In addition the muscles around the airways of the lungs squeeze together constricting the airway even more. It’s been twenty-one years since my last full blown attack. If you’ve never had the experience – it’s very much like those first few moments after you’ve swallow water through your airways into your lungs. You take a breath and nothing happens, it stings and then you cough uncontrollably and violently to expel the water. Your chest tightens up and your lungs don’t seem to be able to inflate. It can take several moments to “catch your breath” again. Now imagine living in those few moments for a week or two. That’s what asthma feels like.
On one particular morning last week, I found myself humming a familiar song… This is the air I breathe. This is the air I breathe. Your holy presence living in me…(Breathe by Chris Tomlin). I began to think about how much we take breathing for granted. It just happens. God wired us to breathe even when we aren’t conscious of it. In Genesis, he formed us from the dust of the ground and breathed the breath of life into us and we became living beings (Genesis 2:7) and in his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind. (Job 12:10) He created us resilient and sturdy, and yet so fragile, because like a breath, our days are like a fleeting shadow (Psalm 144:4) I can’t begin to count the number of times the Bible records that he, she, or they breathed their last. Breathing is one of the essentials of life and we don’t give it a thought until we can’t catch our breath.
If, as the song states, God’s very presence living within me is the air I breathe, then, I began to wonder, what would a spiritual asthma attack look like. I supposed it would be like life pressing in on me and restricting my time in prayer, worship and personal study. Perhaps, I find myself so busy doing my work for the church, or cleaning my house, or taking care of my family that I just can’t seem to find the time. Is it really so bad to decide to spend my only free half hour in the evening paying bills instead of reading my bible? I keep thinking if I can just get through this busy period of time, things will let up and really, I’ve been saying that for years now. I know I’m supposed to prioritize, but really – everything is important – what do I not do?
What I was reminded of this week is that even though lots of things are very important – breathing is a must! It’s not something I can put off until tomorrow. If prayer, worship and personal study are not my very first priority, like breathing, then I’m not going to be equipped and able to do any of the other stuff in the light of Christ. How can I reach out to others in the love of God if I haven’t taken the time myself to marvel in it? How can I reflect it if I don’t know it for myself each and every day fresh and new? How can I share my personal love and admiration for God if I don’t make the effort even to talk with him on a daily basis? If I’m not seeking his forgiveness, wisdom, grace, protection, and will, how can I possible forgive, advise, bless, protect and guide others in his way?
So I have decided to breathe - - God first! Worship first, prayer always and consistent study. I still haven’t figured out how I’m going to do all those other things, but if I’m breathing, I’ve got more of a chance of fulfilling all I’m meant to do then when I scrambling around breathless. I guess what God reminded me this week is that time is not the great barrier I’m facing, but trying to catch my breath to climb over the mountain in front of me.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. (Psalm 150:6)
About the pictures:
Deer Lake Park (Aug 2009)