Breath of Life
by Samantha Trenkamp
This article first appeared in the March/April 2015 print edition of Daughters of Promise.
When my youngest brother was still a babe in the crib, I used to sit in the rocker in his room and read while he napped; it was quiet and peaceful. Often, I liked to just watch his rhythmic breathing, steady and restful. It meant life.
Studying for this idea of the Spirit of God being the very breath of our life has “blown” me away. I have been so blessed by the Biblical imagery throughout both the Old and New Testament of this concept. Amazingly enough, the word “Spirit” comes from the Hebrew root, Ruwach (roo-akh), meaning wind or breath. (The Greek comes from this root as well.) So we can begin to really get a context for what our Lord meant when He said, “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8, NASB) The Spirit cannot be seen as He is, but His power and work are ever present. Just as the wind surges past and wraps around us, we cannot see it, but there is evidence of its presence all around.
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” Genesis 1:1-2 “Then the channels of waters were seen, and the foundations of the world were discovered at thy rebuke, O Lord, at the blast of the breath of thy nostrils.” Psalm 18:15
In the very beginning we see the breath of God. Looking down on the black, lifeless world, He infiltrates it with a whirlwind of exhalation, declaring Life to begin.
Oxygen; as was once said, “I don’t think I could live without this stuff!” We take it in everyday and rarely consider the influence that this basic, yet absolutely necessary aspect of our human anatomy has on us. Every day, the average adult has a rate of 16-20 breaths per minute. Even if you tried to hold your breath, your body will override and force you to take a breath. We HAVE to breathe! Perfectly and wonderfully designed, our lungs bring in fresh, oxygen-rich air, and then expel the harmful carbon dioxide that is made by our cells. The carbon dioxide then leaves when exhaled, while the now oxygen-rich blood returns to the heart. Thus, the purpose of breathing is to keep the oxygen concentration high and the carbon dioxide concentration low.
Think about that for a second. Our lungs and airways can be likened to the time we spend in the Word and in prayer. We come for a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit, but we must also come ready to exhale; to repent of the sinfulness, the carbon dioxide waste within us that can damage our hearts, so that He can come and replenish and rejuvenate us in righteousness. So then the purpose of “breathing” is to be emptied of sin and self and be filled with the Holy Spirit!
“Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost.” John 20:21 22.
“All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils.” Job 27:3
This is something we have to learn and develop though. It is not “as easy as breathing”. Our nature is to hide, fear, and to try and control; in essence, to forcefully hold our breath. We don’t inherently trust God, so we attempt to labor things out ourselves. Even after we ask the Holy Spirit to dwell in us, there will arise occasions when we are quenching Him in some way; maybe trying to ignore a prompting, or not taking a path He calls us to because of fears, etc. Or maybe we are “holding our breath”, afraid to trust the Lord with some aspect of our life and we end up panting in exhaustion. In this too we must learn to let go and fully engage, to exhale our praise and inhale relief, oxygen, fresh hope.
“Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.” Psalm 150:6
Asthma is when, “the bronchioles constrict, reducing the size of the airways. This cuts down on the flow of air and makes the respiratory muscles work harder.”1
Sin constricts our ability to breath in Life, making us less sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit as we seek to justify ourselves. Life becomes harder to bear, harder to handle, it gets harder to breath, and the Holy Spirit is hindered from being able to sustain us.
Apnea is when breathing slows, or stops altogether; and for us spiritually, it means we have become apathetic or acclimated to sin. We are no longer in tune to the Holy Spirit, and so we stop breathing, and fall asleep. Some never waking up again.
Through conscious and deliberate ‘breathing’ we will soon find that abiding in the Vine becomes second nature; indeed it is, as we have become a new creation, a brand new man engrafted with the nature of Christ. There will certainly arise those trials and road bumps that can throw off our equilibrium, yet just as “coughing and sneezing cause air to be rapidly and violently exhaled from the lungs and airways, removing the offending substance”, so we must be diligent in endeavoring to rapidly and, sometimes violently, remove the offending aspects of our life. The besetting sins, sweep under the rug habits, and loss of eternal focus that keep us from fully entering into the rush of the Holy Spirit.
“For in him we live, and move, and have our being…” Acts 17:28
The wind is shaking the trees outside my window. In fact it stirs everything it touches; and I want to be like the wind. To leave nothing untouched, to make a difference for the Kingdom everywhere I go, and in everything I do. The people we pass on the street may not know us personally, but may they leave with no doubt that Something unseen is moving us, and them. We can’t do this without Jesus filling all our empty cavities and echoing out again in praise!
“The spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.” Job 33:4
Relax. And just Breathe.