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‘A Deep Breath’

Take a deep breath. Now exhale. It is something you have done thousands of times today before you even saw these words.

It is likely something that most of us don’t stop to think about routinely. There are some of us for whom breathing is a greater challenge. We may have damage to our lungs from being sick or exposure. We may need a source of oxygen-enriched air in a tank wherever we go.

I think of the newborn babies, exercising their lungs for the first time. We draw breath, we gather oxygen, we feed our bloodstream and it feeds our body. Each one a miracle, each one an amazingly complex system of design, inspiringly and wondrously made.

From the early fire-side oral stories told of creation, the nomadic family of Abraham and his descendants blessed God who gave us breath. They spoke of how all of life is an expression of God’s imagination and creativity. They offered up gratitude to God, and declared that God was not just the inventor of their form, but the very life that fills that form.

Painting the story-picture for us in Genesis 2:7, we hear, “then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.” This human (adam) created from the ground or dust (adamah), is given a physical form but requires breath from God to be alive.

There are times when I can feel out-of-breath. I can reach the point where I am going through the motions of the day but have no “zest.” As the early Methodists in the 1800s would have heard it from their organizer, the Rev. John Wesley, there is a distinct difference between having the form of religion and being empowered. It was a caution not to hold their breath or to forget to breathe.

Let me suggest something to you right now. Take a slow, deep breath. Count to four. Let it go as you exhale. Take a minute to intentionally breathe this way.

Consider each breath is a gift, not something we own or possess.

With each breath, give thanks to God. You might even try a basic breath-prayer as you do.

As you inhale pray silently, “Giver of Life….” and as you exhale pray silently, “….my life belongs to you.” Come, Holy Spirit, come.

Rev. Michael Kendall is lead pastor of Farmville United Methodist Church. He can be reached at mkendall@farmvilleumc.org.