Breathing Is Not Optional
By Janice Price
Anyone that has endured a Phoenix summer knows the irony of the platitude “but it’s a dry heat”. Georgia summers are similar, except we swelter in a sauna instead of a furnace. It doesn’t matter whether you can fry an egg on the sidewalk at 115 degrees. Can you breathe?
At 122 degrees does your car battery work? Is that a strange hiccup coming from your truck engine? Listen to your air conditioner as it labors to breathe hot air in and hot air out to “cool” your home. Apartment complex chillers and evaporative coolers are no match for the still, hot air. When the pollution hangs low, breathing becomes a life and death struggle for persons with respiratory illnesses.
The flu is more entertaining. When your body temperature reaches 104 degrees, you feel as if you are being barbecued from the inside. That might explain the hot brick in your chest, which your lungs are working valiantly to expel. When you prop yourself up to rest, you can hear squeaky hinges, gurgles, whistles, bagpipes and other assorted music as you struggle to breathe. All that’s missing down there are the circus clowns.
Genesis 2:7 states that after God created man from the dust of the earth, (He) breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. Your brain may begin to broil at 104 degrees, but you are still aware of a simple law of life: if you don’t breathe, you die. Period. Breathing is mandatory to life.
In the physical, we tend to prefer lukewarm to either hot or cold. But what about in the spirit? I like the NIV translation of 1 Thessalonians 5:19: Do not put out the Spirit’s fire. The Holy Spirit breathes passion, zest and energy into our lives. We want to fan the flames, not douse the fire with cold water or aspirin.
(Jesus) breathed on (His disciples) and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (John 20:22) This is a fresh air verse for a person in respiratory distress. It brings to mind a lovely spring day. The windows are open; the curtains are stirring in the breeze. One can almost inhale His life-giving breath.
Jesus also told His disciples, The Spirit gives life. (John 6:63) Just as it is imperative we continue breathing to live physically, we require the Holy Spirit to live spiritually. If effect, we can’t “breathe” spiritually without Him. His indwelling presence is mandatory to Life.
As we learn to rely on the Holy Spirit, we begin to exhale the pollution of sin and disobedience. The wheezing ceases. The inflammation heals. The cough is suppressed. We can breathe!
And as our spiritual respiratory system is cleared up and cleaned out, we are eager to devour and digest the word of God. We are thirsty for two-way conversation with our Father. We are passionate to forge a closer, stronger bond with our Savior. Our spiritual temperature rises and we become on fire to share Him with others in respiratory distress. Spiritually–speaking, we cease struggling to breathe on our own and trust the Holy Spirit to breathe within us.
A high thermometer reading or a high thermostat reading can make us uncomfortable. It can affect our health. It can even hasten our death in certain circumstances. But it can’t kill us spiritually.
How often do we thank God for the blessing of breathing? We generally take it for granted. But periodically our Father will turn up the heat to remind us that we are totally dependent on Him for everything. Even for breathing. And to remind us that for physical/spirit-led beings breathing is not optional.
© 2005 Janice Price