Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!
In the ideal life, every breath would be one that praises the Lord. No, that doesn’t mean that every moment of our life needs to be spent in prayer, worship or reading Scriptures. It means that every moment has the potential to praise God. A moment of laughter can be a moment of praise, because good, clean laughter is part of what God intended when He said He wants us to have abundance. An abundance of joy is an expression of one of the Fruit of the Spirit. Laughter is good. Crying can be an expression of praise, as crying is an expression of patience, (sometimes called “long-suffering”) another Fruit of the Spirit. When we are working, those breaths can praise God because working is a manifestation of the talents with which God has blessed us. Conversation between friends can also praise the Lord, if the words are offered with love and kindness.
What then, are examples of breaths that do not praise the Lord? Breaths that are taken with anger, with judgment, with vengeance, breaths that coincide with sinful actions and sinful thoughts, these are examples of breaths that do not praise the Lord.
When we talk about being stewards of our lives, the most basic unit of life is that of breath, and thus the most basic attribute of a good steward is to take good breaths. Many of us mutter under our breaths. What are those words? When I’m in traffic, they aren’t complementing the other drivers, that’s for sure. When we are frustrated, most likely the words express frustration, rather than patience.
When we focus on our breathing, it will be easier to stay not only present, but to stay Godly in the present. If I’m focusing on letting every breath praise the Lord, it will be harder to have breaths that are condemnatory or sarcastic or rude. Allow me to share a very short illustration that I read recently:
A young man approached his priest and said: “I won’t come to church anymore.”
The priest asked him: “Why not?”
The young man answered: “I saw one parishioner talking badly to another, and how some present were looking at their phones during the service.”
The priest said, “Okay, but before you go, do me a favor: take a full glass of water and walk around the church three times so that you don’t spill a single drop on the floor.”
The young man thought that this was too easy and walked around the church three times and when he finished, he told the priest that he had succeeded.
The priest asked him: “While you were walking around the church, did you see how a sister spoke badly about another sister?”
The young man answered “No.”
“Did you see someone looking at their cell phone?”
“Do you know why?”
The priest said “You focused all your attention on the glass, so as not to spill the water. The same happens with our lives. When our attention is focused on the Lord Jesus Christ, we have no time to see the faults of others.”
Indeed, the more we breathe in sync with the Lord, the less breaths will reflect and support sinful things. Will every breath praise the Lord? Undoubtedly, they will not. That’s because we are sinful and will ultimately at times all fall to sin. However, just as sin is a breath away at all times, so is repentance. Any breath can be an opportunity for a new start with the Lord. If we are truly a steward of our lives, any moment, even the moment after a sinful moment, can be a moment when we come back to God, where we breathe for His glory.
Life is hard. I’ve received a lot of responses to this short unit on breathing. I struggle to breathe sometimes. Sometimes I even need someone who will remind me to breathe, even help me breathe. What I mean by this is that I will breathe involuntarily, whether I want to or not. But oftentimes I need someone to remind me to breathe for God, and even help me breathe in a way that glorifies God. The choice to breathe is not our own. The ability to breathe is a blessing from God. The choice for how to breathe, however, belongs to us. And the challenge for each of us every day, whether we are happy or sad, stressed or relaxed, winning or losing, is to decide how many breaths will praise the Lord. The ultimate standard is to let every breath praise the Lord.
Lord, thank Your for the gift of this day and the gift of breath that I will use throughout the day. Soften my heart and help me to guard my breaths, so that as I breathe, I glorify You with every breath. Help me to remember to breathe for You in moments of stress and frustration, and in moments of joy as well. Help me remember to think patient and kind thoughts as I breathe. Help me to be intentional with my breath, to be a good steward of each breath. Let every breath praise You! Amen.
Breathe for the Lord today!