05 October 2013

Breathing Clean Air, Deeply (A Habit for Day 5)

Think back with me to the very beginning of time--the Bible beginning of time.

"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth."  Genesis 1:1

He kept creating and creating and creating all week, when finally, near the end, He was ready to make the last creatures and set them up in their new garden home.  

Whereas He had spent much of the week speaking, commanding with the breath of His voice, for all the different things of the earth to appear, this time He stooped to the dust--the dust of a desert, perhpas, for He had already planted the home-garden of Eden and it was the furthest thing from a desert--to make Adam with His own hands.

When he finished Adam, the new man still lay lifeless on the ground of which he was made.  It took air, the very breath of God breathed, as  the Bible says, into his nostrils, to bring Adam to life.  God's breath gave him blood circulation, made all his organs function perfectly, and "made him a living soul" (Genesis 2:7) with power to think, pray, and to decide for good or for evil.

Without God's air coursing through his lungs, he was only a sand sculpture.


We still need air to preserve our being, at least as much as Adam did.  Take a second, between stories, to think about how and what you're breathing.

Are you breathing from your diaphragm, and taking deep, full breaths to fill your entire lungs each time?  Is your posture supporting good breathing?  If you're inside, have you aired out your home or office recently?  Have you changed the filters in your heating/cooling system?  When was the last time you got outside--really got outside, where the air is fresh with only nature's scents?  (Please tell me you get outside for at least a little bit every day!!)

Think about what deep breathing does for you.  It reduces stress, and improves circulation, digestion, and sleep.  Don't all those things sound like worthwhile results in any time of life, but especially when you're in a stressful desert experience?  Keep breathing, and do it deeply!


Perhaps one of the saddest stories in all the Bible is the story of Belshazzar, king of Babylon.  He came into power when Daniel (of the lions' den faith victory) was quite old.  The Bible minces no words when it introduces this brash, foolish king, saying only this:
"Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand."  Daniel 5:1
Now maybe you see no big deal about drinking alcohol, but I'm going to go out on a {very sturdy} limb and say that it's one of the fastest ways this world affords to get yourself into the worst of desert experiences, and that's exactly what happened to Belshazzar.
The wine began to have its delirious effect, and the king started thinking of himself as the best of the best, higher than any god or man, indeed, higher than the one true God.  In what was probably the final expression of a long string of habit of selfish pride, Belshazzar demands that the holy vessels from God's temple, brought to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar, be brought out of storage and put to use in pagan worship and drunken revelry.

It wasn't a good move, clearly, but neither was the first sip of that toxic death drink that removed his final inhibitions and gave him the unwise courage to defy the God of heaven.

You remember, right, that here is where the fingers of God write on the wall, making the king and all his assembled guests tremble?

"Then the king's countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another."  Daniel 5:6

None of the kings pagan magicians could read the words on the wall, let alone interpret them.  One woman, however, remembered the elderly Daniel, who has before interpreted dreams for another king, one who eventually humbled himself and gave glory to the God who made him and gave him his kingdom.

Daniel arrives in the banquet hall, unflinching in his rebuke to the king, untouched by the promise of expensive gifts and rewards for yet again solving the mystery of a nation.

Daniel rehearses Nebuchadnezzar's story, the power that he had, the way God humbled him from his pride, and the way he finally turned his eyes toward heaven in grateful praise.  The final course of Nebuchadnezzar was a good one.  Then Daniel brings it home to the king standing before him.

"And thou his son, O Belteshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this;   (emphasis mine) but has lifted up thyself against the God of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath is, (emphasis mine), and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified."  Daniel 5:22, 23

The tears come as I type those words.  Through all the rebellion and unwise decisions of Belshazzar's life, his very breath was still held mercifully in the hands of the God who created him, who loved him, who wanted nothing more than to save him and the nation he ruled.

That night, it was too late for Belshazzar.  He lost his life, and while he came through on his word to reward Daniel for reading and interpreting the words, there is no evidence that even this miraculous display by the hand of God called forth any repentance from him.

But that doesn't have to mean it has to be too late for you, or for me.

God still holds your breath--the very physical body and the lungs that even now take one breath after another--in the hand that was nailed to the cross for you.

Through Paul, Jesus still calls to your heart.

"Today, if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts."  Hebrews 3:15

Say yes to the One who loved you enough to give His own life in place of yours, and take courage that your breath is in His nail pierced hand.  There is no better place for your life to be, and no matter how deep or dry the desert you're in feels right now, and even if it's your own fault, you can still turn to Him for all the help you need, for the breath of your body as well as your soul.


Take another few moments between stories, and think about what keeps your spiritual life filled with the life-giving air you need.  Prayer?  Bible study?

Are you breathing deeply enough in your walk with Jesus?


Adam began as clean dirt and became a person.  But Ezekiel stands before a scene of utter desolation, in a desert where dust-bodies are almost entirely returned to desert dust.  Only the bones--completely dried out--remain.  They're not still warm from death, like the little boy.  They are past all visible sign of hope.

And that's frightening, because these bones represent what God's people had become spiritually.

If that's how you're feeling, take courage, and read along in the story with me.

"And He said unto me, 'Son of man, can these bones live?'  And I answered, 'O Lord God, Thou knowest.'  Again He said unto me, 'Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, "O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.  Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live.  And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD."  (Ezekiel 37:3-6)

Ezekiel, in the vision, obeyed the Lord.  When he spoke the breath of God came upon the bones like a wind, and all were restored to life, becoming "an exceeding great army" (Ezekiel 37:10).

The people of the Lord, whose faith had died and become dry as bones in the desert, could and would be entirely restored to life by the breath of God.


God gave human beings their first breath.  He designed us to need fresh air, and He has proven by the resurrection of Jesus Himself (as well as others), that He can restore that physical breath with simply a word.  He was and still is the source of all the air we breathe, and He has plans to raise up the dead in Christ when He blows the trumpet (see 1 Thessalonians 4:17.)

He's also the source of all your spiritual life and breath.  Stay connected to Him, and you will not lack for air.

Is the prayer of your heart for God to revive your spiritual life?  Make the prayer of this choir, this song, your own with me today.

(For further information on the health benefits of fresh air, see White, Ellen G.  The Ministry of Healing, chapter 20, called General Hygiene, available online for free; or these resources from Dr. Neil Nedley.)

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Grab button for LADDER OF MERCY (Photo by Barbara Frohne

1 comment:

  1. What a great way to bring that all together.
    God bless, Lisa :O)


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