Thursday, September 30, 2010

Breathing Lessons

The Lord God formed the man
from the dust of the ground and
breathed into his nostrils
the breath of life,
and the man became
a living being.
Genesis 2:7
Over-and-over again, I read this verse. I'm struck by how much I've missed in my having scurried past it on so many other occassions.
The term breath of life alone is a subject that could (and does) fill the pages of poetic works, philosophical treastise, science/medical journals, and spiritual collections. I've high-centered here today; sitting long to consider the intimacy this one verse etches into the creation narrative.
Yes, I'm a creationist; a die-hard proponent of the Young Earth/Six Day model, and with None other than God at the helm. It's not the place that's high-centered me today, just the backdrop for that which has.

"The God who made the world and
everything in it is
the Lord of heaven and earth
and does not live in temples
built by hands.
And he is not served by human hands,
as if he needed anything, because
he himself gives all men life and breath
and everything else."
Acts 17:24-25

Breath - whether it's that which fills our own lungs, or the air needed to sustain them - can in no way be explained apart from the biblical narrative.

Could there be an even more important reason
why God created our bodies so that we must breathe? Breath is used in the Bible as a powerful symbol of the life-giving presence of God.

Like God Himself, the air we breathe is invisible, odourless and tasteless—it cannot be perceived at all unless it moves. It is usually peaceful and still, but it is a reservoir of enormous power. The air is a massive ocean—invisible, yet completely necessary for our life, for we are quickly dead without it. It seems reasonable to suggest that
one reason God created the air—and respiration—was to show us graphically how great and immediate is our need for Him.

There are many of us here that have both given birth, and/or have witnessed the birth of our grandchildren. Don't we just know the thrill of it, and how bated is our own breath until that baby takes it's first breath; the breath of life? We are not content until we hear the robust cries of lungs fully engaged.

Breath. I wonder ...

  • How often do I take it for granted?
  • How ignorant am I of the nearness of God in it?
  • How few times do I thank God for it?
  • How little do I consider the power & symbolism of it?

In keeping with my high-centeredness, I did a scripture search on the word breath. I could fill page-after-page with related verses, but suffice it to say: it is no small matter, and certainly no once-and-done event. Breathing is woven in-and-out of scripture; and in-and-out of life - literally! It is a subject God certainly meant for me to "get".

As I began to feel that familiar motionlessness brought on by high-centeredness, I stopped to see what caused it in the first place. It was this: In Genesis we hear tell of Elohim's (God's royal title) creative exploits. But when it comes to mankind, it is YHWH - the Lord God (His personal name; the one He gives to Himself) - that does the forming, life-giving work.

With His breath, Elohim spoke life into the universe; placing there - in the atmosphere of earth - the very air I would need to breath the day YHWH placed His breath of life within me.

It doesn't get more personal, or intimate than that.

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Psalm 150:6


LisaShaw said...


You are in my neck of the woods on this one. I love this intimate and beautiful subject ---the breath of GOD. In late '90's we did an indepth study in our women's leadership class that has never left me.

Often, during my prayer times with GOD I thank Him for breathing His breath into my nostrils that I would LIVE.


You said it best here: "With His breath, Elohim spoke life into the universe; placing there - in the atmosphere of earth - the very air I would need to breath the day YHWH placed His breath of life within me."

Love you and thank you for sharing this powerful and intimate message.

P.S. Peter and I appreciate your Anniversary words of love as well. Hugs!

Thena said...

Reminds me of what our Pastor tells us occasionally. He says if we are breathing than we have something to be thankful for.

Debbie said...

Can't tell you how much this blessed me this morning. What powerful words you have written here. I was talking about this very thing a couple of mornings ago with my husband. God Himself breathes the very breath of life into us everyday and may we be thankful and never take it for granted. HUGS, Debbie

~*~KIMBERLY~*~ said...

Praise the LORD!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Kathleen -

This scripture draws me into a place I can only describe as "total awe." We are so much more than a physical body.

God created Adam. There he was, fully formed, everything in place, but something was missing. Life. The very breath of God breathed into his nostrils, turning on all the systems of the body - talk about a word picture!

Susan :)

Cindy - Letters From Midlife said...

Amen! This was a wonderful reminder of how intimately God is involved in our lives.

Denise said...

Amen, praise the Lord.

rcubes said...

Great reminder that our true worth comes not from our achievements but from God Who gives life to anyone's lifeless shell. Glory be to God!

Saleslady371 said...

Oh yes, the importance of a breath. I was weary in my praying not too long ago and remembered our lunch and asking you if it is too late for things to change. Remember? You blew a breath into your hand and said "No, as long as there is one breath left..." I was encouraged then and am now as I think of it!

Janette@Janette's Sage said...

Once again I think you are reading my teaching schedule. We are doing Genesis and we concentrated on just Genesis 1:1, but we are reading through chapter 11 for 15 weeks.
I too hold to the views of young earth...etc. and have noticed that on your site are the same sites and resources I have used through the years for my children.

After our women's Bible Study on just the fullness of Gen. 1:1 we burst into "How Great Thou Art"....that song just summoned it your post today.

I will take this blog post to my group when we get to this scripture in our study!

Shirl said...

When my mother-in-law passed, all of us were at her bedside. We knew she was breathing her last breaths. We were telling her we loved her... telling her it was OK for her to go on...that we would be OK. She did not seem to even know we were in the room. Her breathing was quiet. Her spirit calm. Her body still. It ended that quietly and peacefully. One moment she breathed, the next she did not for she was present with the Lord. It was at that moment I realized how quickly we slip into breath. Just one breath away.

I have also pondered the verse in Genesis where God breathed life into us. He sustains that breath and then quietly withdraws it to gather us home.

Debbie said...

I love that our God was so intimately involved in creating us. Breath of life ... without it we couldn't live. And He provided it for us.

I've been involved as a cardiac nurse on many occasions to use CPR. When a person has been resuscitated and they take that breath again; wow!

You always get us thinking Kathleen.

Love you,

Sonja said...

I read this twice, and then took a deep breath!! Just the reminder that even the breath we breathe is the breath of His life in us... so good Kathleen!!

MOMSWEB said...

I thank God daily for the ability to inhale and exhale daily!

Pat's Place said...

Breath is truly an amazing thing, isn't it? I have been pondering the same topic lately. And I love the idea of the breath of God breathing in me. Amazing to think about, isn't it?