Take a deep breath.
Inhale... Then exhale...
Have you ever considered that the breath you just took was a gift from the Creator of the Universe?
God, our Father in heaven, King of Kings and Lord of Lords -- he is the Creator and Sustainer of all life. There is only One of Him. He alone is God. There are no others.
He alone holds every single one of your breaths in the palm of His hand. Sometimes, this thought makes me shiver -- as it should in the context of reverence for Him. But most times, this thought brings me incredible comfort. As I breathe in deeply, oxygen fills my airways and inflates my lungs. This oxygen, these airways and lungs, and the ability to use them easily are each generous gifts from God. As I breathe out again, I am reminded that it is solely up to God to give me the next one.
Isn't this remarkable?
It says in 1 Timothy 6:15b-16a that God, "is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see." This is the God who gives us every breath. He dwells in unapproachable light, and yet He is close to you and me. He cannot be seen, and yet He reveals Himself to us in the life of Jesus.
We have a tendency to talk about God, and even talk to God, as if He were extremely far away; as if He were too far away to understand us, to talk to us, or to even truly love us.
But the truth remains: God is so close to each of us that He even gives us our every breath.
I don't want to miss this truth. I don't want to wake up, begin my routine, and live each day as if I was ignorant of the fragility of my life. Rather, I want to get this truth. I want to wake up every day, and live each moment of my life in light of how fragile I am, and yet be at rest in God's life-giving hands.
Here at IDES, I have the honor of partnering with you to make hope possible for those who are suffering around the world. It's fulfilling to hear the beautiful stories of lives being saved and souls being comforted. But, rarely a day passes without wishing to myself once or twice that we could reach just one more person, or that we could save just one more life. We serve thousands, but there are thousands more. At least from our perspective, their lives may seem even more fragile than our own merely because of circumstance. But, I am comforted by the fact that it is God who gives breath to each and every one of the people we serve. He is ultimately in control, and we can be confident in His love for us and His love for those who are suffering.
It says in Psalm 39:4-7, "O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! (Selah) Surely a man goes about as a shadow! Surely for nothing they are in turmoil; man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather! And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you."
I love and admire the courage of David in writing this song. What a bold request! "O Lord, make me know my end..." -- Living our lives from within the understanding that our life is very short lends to us an avenue to truly understand humility. God is in control. Any semblance of control we think we have is mostly an illusion. Even our breath is a gift from Him.
David also touches upon the implications that living humbly with our end in sight has on our goals and dreams. He says that heaping up wealth and waiting around in turmoil is ultimately for nothing. I think about the many things I am "waiting for" or "saving up for." Is any of it for advancing the Kingdom? Is any of it for anyone else's benefit other than my own? Unfortunately, my answer is often disappointing.
What if instead of focusing on our own routines, on our own security and future, or on our own hopes and dreams, we focus on others? What if we put their needs and interests above our own? What if we lived every day like it might be our last? What would it practically look like to live life being humble and thankful for every single breath given to us?
I am still figuring these things out, and I will still need the guidance of scripture and the prayers of good friends and family members. But, the more I ask myself these questions, the more willing I am to request that God may make me number my days, and count every breath a gift.
Life is short. God is sustaining you and me. Let's live our lives in response to His love.
-written by Chase Cotten, Media Director at IDES