My posts so far for The Faithful Village have been stories about the faithfulness I see in the people around me. This post is about something that can help faithfulness blossom more fully in your life and my life. It is the first in a possible series I’m calling “Lessons from the Lake”.
A Summer Swim
My parents live on a beautiful lake in Northern Minnesota. I was swimming at the lake this week. Surrounded by beauty. My favorite place in the world. The cool water flowed around me as I did the backstroke a short distance from shore. I am no Olympic swimmer, but my parents didn’t call me a “fish” when I was young for nothing. I love the water, and I love to swim. But fish or no fish, swimming is hard work. My breathing became more labored. But as I continued, I focused on breathing regularly.
In with one stroke.
Out with the next.
I matched my breathing to my strokes. Deep breaths. And as I regulated my breathing, the rest of my movements became easier. It became sustainable.
As I left the water, dried off, and sat in the sunshine on the shore, I saw a connection between my swimming workout and my life. Sometimes this life feels like hard work. I find myself gasping for breath. So how can I regulate my breathing in this workout of life? What breathes life into me when I am empty and exhausted?
Breath of Life
Genesis 2:7 tells us:
“Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.”
God made us in His image and He breathed life into us, and He continues to breathe into us now.
One of my favorite worship songs years ago proclaims,
“This is the air I breathe,
Your holy Presence, living in me.
This is my daily bread,
Your very Word spoken to me.”
As a Christian, I believe that God’s Word and His Presence are the “air we breathe.” The Bible is life-giving and life-sustaining, like oxygen to our lungs. Wisdom and truth and encouragement and correction. And as I have to breathe regularly and continuously, I need God’s Word and His Presence regularly and continuously.
If I am swimming and I forget to breathe, swimming will not be very enjoyable, and I won’t be able to keep it up for long. If I go to God’s Word only sporadically, my life can feel suffocated.
Regulate Your Breathing
I learned about regulating my breathing last summer when I tried to train for a 5K. (Que the laughter. Me, running?) I found some articles on Pinterest. I was pinning tips for running. One of the main things addressed in the article was breathing. That, and good shoes. And when I implemented the article’s advice I started not to hate running quite so much. My lungs would open wide with regular and intentional breaths.
When life feels particularly strenuous, that’s when we need those regular, intentional times in God’s presence even more. We open our spiritual lungs and breathe deeply of God’s love and promises. His wisdom and council comes through His Word. But it cannot fill us if we don’t read it!
For me, that regular time with God comes each morning when I first wake up. In my robe and slippers, I shuffle to my Keurig and press the magical “on” button. I can’t read, or think for that matter, until my eyes are fully open. I suspect that God created the coffee bean with mommy morning devotions in mind. Four minutes later I carry my “wake up juice” to the table, sit on the beautiful bay window bench my dad made for me, take in the morning sunshine, and open a devotional book and my Bible. As the caffeine hits me, I breathe in God’s Word (i.e. reading the Bible) and listen to what He wants to whisper to me that morning. Sometimes it’s 10 minutes, sometimes it’s 30. Sometimes it might only be 3 minutes.
I echo the psalmist who says in Psalm 143:8:
“Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning,
for I am trusting you.
Show me where to walk,
for I give myself to you.”
I know that if I am intentional about spending time with the Lord each morning life becomes easier and sustainable. But if I forget or let other things get in the way of my time with the Lord I lose my pace and start to struggle. I start to drown in the worries of this life. It is not until I get back into the regular “breathing” of time with God that my brain clears and I can press on.
Maybe you have never had a regular quiet time, or maybe you tried and it just didn’t work. Here is an article (also found on Pinterest) of simple and practical tips for having a successful devotional time. Maybe you will find it helpful. Whatever you need to do, do it. It is worth it.
This Crazy Life
Life gets crazy. Busy and wild and noisy. I depend on those morning moments with God to help me keep my focus, and my sanity! Another thing that really helps me is good music. Here is a song I really like that reminds me to “just breathe.” Perhaps you would like to take a few moments and listen and breathe, too.
When I stop in my day and take a breath and remember God, it’s like I’m swimming in our beautiful lake. God’s presence surrounds me like the cool, clear water. And I can just breathe. Maybe you would like to pray this prayer with me, and take a breath of God’s presence right now.
Thank you Lord for Your breath of life, offered to me freely. Help me to take time to bring Your truth and life into my heart by reading Your Word. Help me when I struggle to find the time. Please speak to me and lead me in this life. Thank You for Your presence that brings me peace and strength. Amen.
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