It is my honour once again to contribute to For All the King’s Daughters. I continue to be amazed at how God moves in our lives, and orchestrates all things according to His will. When I was asked to write on having ‘lung power’, on experiencing the Holy Spirit’s breath in our daily walk with God, I was stupefied. Why? Because at the exact time I received the invitation, I was meditating on the theme the Lord had given me for this year and for this season. God had imprinted on my heart that this year, I am to focus on endurance. Specifically, running with endurance the race set before me (Heb 12:1). This race we run as Christians, as mothers, as ministers, is much more like a marathon than a sprint. When God called us to be his children, it wasn’t a momentary thing. It was an eternal thing. We’re in this for the long haul. Yet living in this already-but-not-yet paradigm, where life is still messy and living with faith can be even messier, God knew that we couldn’t do it without supernatural endurance.
How does one endure running 42 kilometers? Well, as a former marathon runner myself, there is one thing you cannot be without: proper breathing. Long, deep, lasting breaths that are well paced, with good rhythm. It is our breathing that generates our body’s rhythm. The length and breadth of our stride depends on the pace of our breathing and how much air we are inhaling and exhaling. Proper breathing also helps to oxygenate your muscles and therefore prevent cramps. Breathing also alleviates nervousness and anxiety. If you ask a runner, learning HOW to breathe is fundamental in enduring a long race. So when I was asked to write about lung power, immediately I thought about running and endurance. As Angela mentioned in April 3rd’s blog, the Greek word for spirit is pneuma, which means breath. Today, I would like to share two stories about how God gives us pneuma, breath in the form of the Holy Spirit, to help us run with endurance this race we have been called to in Jesus.
I have two young children (2+ and 6 years old), living cross culturally while working at home and serving the local church. To say that my husband and I need endurance everyday is a bit of an understatement.
This particular day, I was participating in a mom and tot class at the local Montessori with my youngest, Miles. This day, he was everything but cooperative. He clung to me for dear life and refused to come down and play with others. What’s more, he would start to whine and cry and want to leave, thereby disrupting the class. I decided, today was not a good day to stay, so I left the classroom. A teacher then came out and encouraged us to observe the class if not participate in it, to help Miles transition better. Eventually, he did feel better and even participated in the latter half of the class. Was that a win?! I thought it was…. until I came home and after putting Miles down for a nap, I went to my room, found a little corner and started bawling. Yes, I was having a meltdown. Thoughts of failing my child, the pressure of having him adjust to this new environment at school, to participate like the others, then spiraling to meal planning the rest of the week, not having time to go to the market, feeling like I was doing this alone – all of it came crashing down. I was emotionally, physically and mentally tired from DEALING. After being consoled from my best friend over text and pulling myself off the ground, I had a long conversation with my husband and had some things in our schedule rearranged so to alleviate my struggle. I was thankful for them, but ultimately something else was off. Why did I end up in a hot mess on the floor that day? How did it get to that point?
I knew I needed to recalibrate. I read in a blog elsewhere later about how to recover from a spiritual shut-down:
“Move in an unhurried and normal pace, going forward in the pattern of life He has shown you every day” (Angela Blyker, Velvet Ashes)
Pace. That was what I was lacking. My life was anything but unhurried. I was following my own pace and not the Father’s. The Bible often illustrates how we are to follow Christ – by walking with Him.
2 Cor 5:6-7
My music teacher often said moderato in music means ‘walking pace’. It’s not fast and it’s not slow. It’s got a steady rhythm. It’s not lazy but not rushed either.
I started questioning after my meltdown, is my life’s rhythm in moderato? Am I walking in line with God’s rhythm? I realized I wasn’t keeping God’s pace, in fact, I am often running ahead and thinking everything was on my shoulders. I couldn’t breathe anymore. Is that why I lost steam?
I spent significant time months after the meltdown identifying and praying over the areas in my life that was not in walking rhythm with the Lord. I realigned my priorities to what God deemed important and what He deemed unnecessary strife. I repented of the areas that I ran ahead, thinking I knew better. I pulled myself back into God’s embrace as He forgave me and ushered me into a way of organizing my life that saw Him as the head.
I lost my breath, because I lost sight of the goal. I started to panic and anxiety filled me up. I cramped up and felt forward. That’s what happens when you try to breathe on your own and forget to breathe in God.
After a long day of ministering to some local ladies, then coming home to the two little ones, cooking dinner, washing dishes etc. I was completely exhausted. But more than that, I felt empty. This was the beginning of the New Year, and God had already given me my word – endurance. But tonight, I had nothing left. The feeling was that of being poured out and then having nothing to fill it back up. It was then, with whatever little energy I had left, I remembered what I learned months before. Pace. Walking with the Lord. I needed to breathe again. I reached for my Bible. I followed my reading plan, and that day it was on Isaiah 65:20-25. As I finished reading, a warm feeling came over me. Something filled me up again. It was hope, it was joy; it was God’s breath. I exhaled deeply and a smile crept over my face. I knew in that moment that it was the Holy Spirit moving in me, as pneumapenetrated my soul.
The Holy Spirit revived me that night. I felt renewed and refreshed. Now how can words on a page do that to a person? Well, it wasn’t just words but specific words that have been revealed and anointed by God himself to give life to us.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (1 Tim 3:16)
Read that again. Do you see it? Breathed out in Greek is theopneustos, which means divinely breathed in, or inspired by God (Theo meaning the Godhead and pneustos presumably deriving from pneo, which means breath). Inspiration by God comes in the form of breath, which can also be traced back to the Greek word for Spirit – pneuma.
You see friends, that night, I wasn’t just reading words in a book, the Spirit through God’s divinely breathed-in word was reviving me. The Holy Spirit working in those words healed me from discouragement, desperation and fatigue. The Spirit led me to that passage for that precise moment, to encourage me. My soul was able to breathe again. I started the night empty, but went to bed overflowing.
Upon reflection, these testimonies remind me of how God is teaching us how to breathe. Spiritual breathing means keeping pace with Him, allowing the Holy Spirit to set the rhythm, and often returning to the Source to regain that breath again. Breathing on our own can only result in exhaustion and cramping. Breathing with the breath of eternal life will ensure we can finish this race. I pray that we may all learn to breathe in this way so that indeed, we may run with endurance to gain the prize that God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus (Phil 3:13).
Evelyn is born and raised a CBC – Canadian born Chinese and is proud to be a Canuck living and serving in East Asia with her husband and two kids. She is often described as having enthusiasm that scares people, and will rarely shy away from good conversation and a good cup of coffee (or two). Her passion is to teach, encourage and love people deeply. She strives to help others find their God-given identity and purpose as they develop an intimate relationship with Jesus.