Holy Breathing

When I was in grade school my Dad had a heart attack. After he came home from the hospital, I remember that when he took a nap, I would sometimes just go in and watch him breathe.

Breath means life.

The Bible says that the breath of God is creative, powerful, and life-giving.

In Hebrew, the language of the Old Testament, there’s only one word for wind, breath, and spirit, the word, ruach. We have three separate words, they had one. In the New Testament, the Greek word pneuma means nearly the same thing.

In Genesis 1, one of the first things we’re told is that, at creation, the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the water. God spoke and things started to happen.

In Genesis 2, God reached down into the dust and water and formed a man. God breathed into his nostrils, and the man became a living being.

Every single one of us has the very breath of God in us.

God’s breath is the creative force behind all of life. So it’s not surprising that the risen Jesus commissioned his followers and sent them out by breathing on them. What God did at creation, breathing life into the first human being, God did again after the resurrection. The breath of God is what gives power to life and mission.

And yet we can miss the power that’s available to us. There are lots of reasons, but I think the main one is that we’re so busy with our own agendas. Breathing is such a good metaphor for the work of the Spirit because it is integral to life, but we can do it all day and not even notice.

After my Dad’s heart attack, I no longer took his breathing for granted.

Are you breathing right now? It’s the power of God in you.

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