Can You Breathe?

2020 – a year of major life change, uncertainty, unrest

Also a year of awareness of breathing. Something we naturally do without a thought.  Or did.

It began with our pulse quickening, our breaths anticipating the coming of this year 2020 – the year of new vision. But then the coronavirus hit – a virus that affects our respiratory system. In many cases, it affects it so much, people require respirators in order to breathe. Not something they can do on their own, but have become agonizingly aware of each breath. 

Then came the masks, which also affect our breathing. I have become much more aware of my breathing as it fogs my glasses and heats my face so that I cannot wait to take it off and take in deep breaths and breathe freely.

Then came the atrocious incident involving George Floyd and his famous last haunting words, “I can’t breathe.” What a horrible way to die, with someone literally blocking your airway until you expire, breathing your last breath on earth.

Then came the riots, with us holding our breath. Which statue would be next? Which city, town or neighborhood? We felt ourselves breathing shallowly. 

Then news of the fires from the West filled our airwaves, where people could not breathe fresh air for days to weeks – and still experience it. Ash covered the sun, covers all surfaces and is in the air. Breathing becomes labored and dangerous.

The air is being sucked out of us physically, emotionally, and spiritually. We are gasping for fresh air. Precious free oxygen that we have taken for granted is so life-giving, feeding all the cells in our bodies. 

The things people breathe out in regards to this election have become toxic. People breathing threats to those who disagree with their personal view?! Threatening with more riots, more fires, more taking of the freedom to breathe from others?

And now we, with bated breath, wonder about the outcome of this election. It would seem that no matter who ‘wins’ we all lose. Neither side trusts the other, and neither will likely concede that this election will be fair. Whoever sits in the Oval Office will have a civil (or not so civil) war within our culture. A war of ideas, of opinions. What once inspired us as a people, e pluribus unum, to greatness, is now tested and seen in disdain. And though we are more alike than we are different – we all breathe in 02 and breathe out C02, each of us are purposefully made in the image of God – we are being played in this culture of distrust. The strategy is to divide us in our homes, in the church, in our communities and in our country. And everyone points fingers at each other. The division comes in many formswith our differences coming between us rather than enhancing us in beautiful diversity of thought, color, backgrounds, etc.

Being played? By whom? To whom should I point my finger? The point is that fingers should not be pointed at individuals because it is a spiritual battle. It is not won in the voting booths. Not won in the streets. It is won in our hearts. It begins with what we choose to breathe in.

Respire. Expire. Inspire. All have the same root ‘spire’ within it. To ‘breathe.’  The question is what am I breathing? What am I taking into my body, my mind, my spirit? What I take in, I breathe out. Are they things that are toxic and deadly – and do I therefore spread them to others like this deadly virus or the spreading fires?

The tongue is a deadly fire………Humanity is capable of taming every bird and beast in existence, even reptiles and sea creatures great and small. But no man has ever demonstrated the ability to tame his own tongue! It is a spring of restless evil, brimming with toxic poisons. Ironically this same tongue can be both an instrument of blessing to our Lord and Father and a weapon that hurls curses upon others who are created in God’s own image.One mouth streams forth both blessings and curses. My brothers and sisters, this is not how it should be. Does a spring gush crystal clear freshwater and moments later spurt out bitter salt water? My brothers and sisters, does a fig tree produce olives? Is there a grapevine capable of growing figs? Can salt water give way to freshwater?” James 3:7-12 Voice

Kind of hits right between the eyes. Right where we need to see it for what it is.

Here are a few thoughts on the meaning of ‘inspire” or breathing to ponder : 

  • The Latin for inspire is “enspiren, “to fill (the mind, heart, etc., with grace, etc.); also “to prompt or induce someone to do something” (Preferably something notable, noteworthy to bring forth good)
  • Old French enspirer; – “to influence, move, or guide (as to speech or action) through divine or supernatural agency or power.”
  • Orthodox Jews revere the name of God to such a degree they will not speak it. It is composed of consonants without vowels. YHWH. It is breathed. Our lives are God-breathed.
  • The word for spirit is ‘pneuma’ – breath or wind. The Lord God, Who is a Spirit, breathed from His nostrils the breath of life and humans became living beings. We are set apart from the rest of creation because we were made in the image of God Himself. It is our honor to reflect His nature in the words we breathe out.

It is our honor and stewardship to use our breath from Him to praise God, to offer words of hope, to be clear, drinkable water of blessing, to inspire – and hopefully resuscitate – others who are losing hope, faith and joy with our life-giving words. Let us speak God-breathed words of truth of hope of life. This generation is facing record numbers of suicides and crises in opioids – signs of hopelessness. Let our words breathe hope into one another. 

Let us be champions of life and love and kindness. Let us not fill our mouths with words that degrade, mock or demean another created in the image of God. We can disagree civilly and choose to breathe life into those God brings our way. Let it be said of us that we walk, talk, breathe, speak the words of the spirit of God.

Let us be like the ‘spire’ of a church – ever-pointing up toward the Source of Life, Truth and Hope.

Psalm 34:2. The Passion Translation

‘I’m boasting of you and all your works, so let all who are discouraged take heart.’

Ephesians 4:29

Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.

Psalm 80:18 The Message

‘We will never turn our back on you; breathe life into our lungs so we can shout your name!’

You give life, You are love

You bring light to the darkness

You give hope, You restore

Every heart that is broken

Great are You, Lord

It’s Your breath in our lungs

So we pour out our praise

We pour out our praise

It’s Your breath in our lungs

So we pour out our praise to You only

You give life, You are love

You bring light to the darkness

You give hope, You restore

Every heart that is broken

Great are You, Lord

All the earth will shout Your praise

Our hearts will cry, these bones will sing

Great are You, Lord

Please share other worship songs that speak of breath, breathing. There are many to choose from!

What do you think?