The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” – Job 33:4

Breathing is something we often take for granted. Yet God brought home the truth of this verse to me during the more intense part of this illness. As I got more and more unwell, one of the symptoms I had was difficulty breathing. When seeking medical advice, I was just told, “your body is too tired to breath easily, the physical effort is too much. There’s nothing we can do.” So I would have to spend most of every day just lying down and breathing, focussing on each breath. I remember the vulnerability of this. Although I was never so I couldn’t breath, having so little energy that it took most of my strength for each breath felt too close for comfort!

But in those hours of breathing, sometimes praying for the next breath, I started to realise more and more how every breath is a gift. Knowing what it was to depend on God to give me the next breath, and the next breath, I found that each breath was precious. Every breath is a chance to live, every breath a chance to know God, every breath a chance to praise and give thanks, every breath a chance to live for him. This makes every moment worth living, even when it means chronic pain, being housebound and struggling to breath. I started to give thanks for them, one breath at a time… each one a gift of life, and an opportunity to live for him.

We are so utterly dependant on Him. Every moment is given, sustained, by Him. And when you realise this, the fragility and the preciousness of life, it begs the question: how shall we use it? It’s not enough to drift through life anymore. How will you use each breath… each day? Will you use your breath to praise or curse, encourage or criticise, to reach out and serve, or to serve yourself? Much of these daily choices are determined by your purpose. What are you living for?

The verses below describe God’s power, his gift of life to us, the way he gives each breath, and how he determines the boundaries of our lives. Then it also states what we are created for…

“The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is He served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.

And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God…”

Acts 17:25,27a

This should be our main purpose in life. Here I am not just talking about prayer or time alone with God (though it certainly includes this) but a constant seeking Him in everything. That every breath whether used to exercise, sing, speak to your family, communicate with others, encourage, pray, bless, challenge, serve, sustain, work, or rest is used with the one purpose of seeking God. God should not be confined to the “spiritual” part of your life. If He gives you breath for all these things, then surely He is in them. Surely the one who gives you each breath should be considered in the way you then use it?

With the purpose of seeking God with each breath, it impacts every part of our lives, changing the way we use our words, the way we spend our time, the things we count as important. Any moment spent seeking God is never wasted. Every breath is given by God, and we are free to choose how to use it… but we are created to seek Him with every breath He gives. Through so much of our day, we get on with life, and maybe touch base with God at some point, but throughout all those things we do He is supplying every breath, every moment of life. It is good to remember this… to remember in all the business and doing that even at the most basic level we are utterly dependant on the one who gives us life. That without Him we can do nothing, but with Him anything is possible.

I write this because I need this challenge as much as anybody. I would like to say God is considered in each word I say and each thing I do, but often he is not, and this is when I forget my purpose of seeking God, and live for myself. May God teach me and the rest of His church to fully live for Him, and use every breath to seek Him!

Today, as you go through life, remember the one who sustains your every breath. Give thanks for this day, this chance he has given you to love and praise him. Live with boldness using every opportunity. And seek Him as long as you have breath.

“Let everything that has breath praise the LORD! Praise the LORD!” – Psalm 150:6

Hephzibah

Illustration by Valerie Martin

blog

Every Breath

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A Sacrifice of Praise

In the Bible, God asks for a sacrifice of praise, but what does this look like in different circumstances. My brother put it this way: “our question when we face suffering should not be ‘Why God?’ but ‘What?’… ‘what should my response be?'”

This was a challenge to do through the years of chronic illness, pain, and being housebound. Then into my struggle to praise, God asked me a question. It was during a week of particularly intense symptoms, a real wrestle with depression, on one of many sleepless nights and when I was really longing for health, God asked me how I would respond if he healed me… and then how I would respond if He didn’t. He challenged me that his goodness is not dependent on health, or healing, or happy endings, but that I should remember who he is and hope in that. And that, whatever he allowed, he was equally worthy of praise. That night I reminded myself of who God is and wrote my response to his unchanging goodness.

“If He gives health I will thank him.

If he allows sickness I will praise Him.

When he guides I will follow.

When he stays silent I will wait.

In pain I will pursue him.

In gladness I will enjoy him.

In hope I will be confident in him.

In doubt I will fall on him.

And uncertainty I will rest in him.

In despair I will cry out to Him.

In sorrow I will reach for Him.

In loneliness I will abide with Him.

In failure I will rely on his grace.

In success I will walk humbly with Him.

In suffering I will long for Him.

In questioning I will stand on his truth.

If he gives strength, I will serve Him.

If he allows weakness I will depend on Him to use me anyway.

In my brokenness I will look to His beauty.

In wholeness I will trust in His strength.

In adoration I will dance with Him.

In hopelessness I will turn to Him.

In faith I will obey Him.

In the desert I will thirst for Him.

In fear I will fly to Him.

In love I will worship Him.

In repentance I will weep with Him.

In prayer I will seek his face… for he is the God above all, worthy of all kinds of praise, enough for every circumstance, and sufficient for every failing.

He is:

Eternally good,

Totally sovereign,

Perfectly compassionate,

Completely trustworthy,

Abounding in grace,

Freely forgiving,

Selflessly serving,

Humbly sacrificing,

Holy and righteous,

Mighty in power,

Lavish in giving,

Never forsaking,

Choosing and keeping,

Always completing,

Faithfully working,

Steadfastly saving,

Surely this God is worthy of all praise! Whatever my circumstances, feelings, or failings, He is worthy. He is enough! He is the ultimate treasure and joy. So fill me Lord! Fill this cracked pot with the treasure of knowing you – the God who is worth everything.

As I wrote this out, I was encouraged to realise that he accepts all kinds of praise from whatever place we are in. My Dad says “God’s highest praise comes from the lowest place”. We do not need to be in a good place or able to do more than cry out to Him, for even this is praise and a sacrifice that pleases him. The desperate cry out of our pain when we cannot see the goodness of God – that doesn’t understand but chooses to praise, is as glorifying to Him as the delight and wonder we express when we see his goodness.

He invites you…

“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and He who has no money, come, buy and eat!… Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your souls may live.”

“Let not conscience make you linger.

Nor of fitness fondly dream.

All the fitness He requires

Is to feel your need of Him”

(Come ye sinners – Joseph Hart.)

What will your response be?

Hephzibah

Illustration by Valerie Martin

blog, Digging Deeper, Illustrated

A sacrifice of praise

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