Revisiting the essentials for life:
How is your spiritual breathing? Have you been holding your breath too long? Take a deep breath. Hold it…..keep holding it….okay BREATHE. I wonder, did just the thought of holding your breath make you anxious? I don’t like the feeling I get after holding my breath for too long. My heart starts to race and I begin to feel light headed. Why do you think that is? Because breathing oxygen is essential to life and our breath rate is usually in rhythm with our heart rate. The two are dependent on each other to do their job- provide oxygen to the body.
Like physical breathing is essential to our physical life, taking time to spiritually BREATHE is essential to our spiritual life. Therefore, living out our identity in Christ should be as automatic as each breath we take, right? But why isn’t it? Oxygen taken in with each new breath is essential to maintain the strength of life in our body– from all the tiny cells to each major organ. Likewise, the way we live out our identity in Christ maintains the strength of our spiritual life.
I am challenged by the harsh reality that I am not as immediately aware or alarmed when my spiritual breathing has been interrupted as I am when I am forced to hold my breath for more than 30 seconds. I can begin to feel the panic rise up inside, as I desire to release the old air and receive the new to avoid loss of consciousness or ultimately loss of life.
So what do I mean by spiritual breathing? Well recently I’ve been challenged with principles to help maintain spiritual balance in my life or taking time to BREATHE. I tend to put principles into acrostics making them easier to remember and put into practice. Here is my BREATHE acrostic:
Believe God is able ~Remember you are redeemed and release ~Everyday eternally focused ~Available and aware ~Trust with thanksgiving ~Humbly resist ~Exhale ~
When I keep each of these “BREATHE” principles active in my life I am strengthening my spiritual life through responsible relationship with the Lord by living my identity in Him. I notice that I become spiritually oxygen deprived when any of the principles are out of balance or rhythm. Let’s take a brief look at these principles.
Believe God is able. This principle challenges us to keep who God is in alignment with who we believe He is. Sometimes to believe is as simple as remembering that He is the great I AM who holds all that is dear to us in His all-powerful, majestic hands. This principle asks us- “What do you really believe about God’s ability to provide and care for you and all that you hold close?” This of course cramps the style of any of us control freaks, right? ~Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God…” ~ Deuteronomy 7:9 “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God…”
Remember you are redeemed and release. Knowing who God is and remembering He has redeemed us as His daughters is the foundation of one’s identity in Christ. When we reflect on the power and sacrifice that were exercised for our redemption it calls us to a place of surrender and release. It calls us to surrender to His never-ending love where we are then able to experience His gentle kindness. In this sweet relationship we can release our hold on the shame of sinfulness and allow Him to wash us in his forgiveness. Remembering our redemption also releases us from the snare and trap of the enemy leaving us free in Christ. ~1 Peter 1: 17-21 “…live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear…. it was not with perishable things …you were redeemed from the empty way of life…but with the precious blood of Christ…he was chosen before the creation of the world… through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.” ~ Ephesians 1:7-8 “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding.” ~ 1 John 1: 9-10 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us…”
Everyday is eternally focused. “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”(Mathew 6:21) These words of Jesus ring true don’t they? Keeping our heart and head focused on where our real eternal treasure lies is difficult and takes determination.
I struggle to fix my eyes on what is unseen because the allure of the seen is so tangible and tempting even though it is temporary. ~ 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 “ Therefore do not lose heart…outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day…our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen…what is unseen is eternal.”
Available and aware. This principle reminds us “it’s not all about me”. Though we will make plans for our days and weeks it is important to aim the desire of our heart to look for the Lord will direct our feet. Some days it is evident that the Lord has better plans for the day than our plans. Our response to His redirection reveals our heart attitude toward being available for the Lord’s purposes and determined to press on in difficult circumstances. It also is evidence of our sensitivity to the teaching of the Holy Spirit.
It isn’t an easy thing to do but I must remain available to do the good works the Lord has prepared for me in advance. I also need to be aware of His leading and the needs of others in my life. ~Philippians 3: 13-14 “…Forgetting what is behind and straining…I press on toward the goal…for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” John 14:26 “…the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send… will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have said to you.”
Trust with thanksgiving. Philippians 4:6-7 sums this up. We are not to be anxious or worry about anything. Rather we are to trust God wholeheartedly with everything. To not be anxious means trusting God through petitioning in prayer and believing He is able with a thankful attitude. This is not easy but I do breathe more easily when I practice this principle.
Humbly resist. Resist what? The temptation of pride to take control and live like we don’t believe God is able. Pride is the root of all sin and it is the hardest for us to detect in ourself. A heart of humility helps us live selflessly and resist the tendency to control and capitalize for personal benefit. Proverbs 16:18 “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 3:7 “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.” 1 John 2:16-17 “For everything in the world- lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life- comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”
Exhale. Exhale everything into His hands and exclaim His excellence. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) When we take time to exhale, we are able to maintain an attitude of worship and experience the peace of the Lord in relationship with Him. We are able to see Him at work in the big and little things of life, then we are moved to worship Him with our life.
Take the time to review the principle verses that speak to where you are in your relationship with the Lord.
Armor Up, Pride down, Pray Always