There is a difference between breathing in air and breathing in life.
Not too long ago I found myself gasping for air. I had just gotten back from Spring Break in California with the tennis team, and was adjusting to the routine of being a student again.
Being anxious for several days made me feel as though someone was pressing their hand against my chest, keeping my lungs from fully expanding. Was the frosty Minnesota air the culprit of my respiratory laboring? Regardless, I was trying to breathe in the air I needed to survive.
Then all of a sudden, I realized something.
I was at Prepare Ministries (a fellowship-based time for discussion, prayer, and Bible study on Wednesday evenings). As we were gathered in worship singing, and as I was gasping for air, I thought about the lyrics being sung:
“It’s your breath in our lungs, so we pour out our praise…”
I realized why my lungs had been weak. In those two previous anxious days back from break, I had kept up with my usual morning routine of spiritual readings. I was reading and thinking about God. Yet, those thoughts had not truly sunk in.
It seemed as though my thoughts were remaining thoughts and not becoming part of my character. To put it another way, I was breathing in what I read but I was blowing it right back out.
When I thought about the lyrics again three words kept coming to my mind: “breathe of life.” Then, I correspondingly thought of Jesus.
Yes, you heard me, I just associated breathing with Jesus!
I later found out the word “breath” actually appears often in the Bible. It refers to “life” and comes up first as a verb. God “breathed” life into the world and into us when he created the Heavens and the Earth for example. Similarly, Jesus “breathed” life, breathed the Holy Spirit, into his apostles after he was resurrected and before he ascended to Heaven. “Breath,” also refers to the Holy Spirit.
There are two ways we can approach “breath,” and “breathing.” On one hand life is breathed into us by God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. On the other hand, we have to take action and breathe life in.
Breathing in life is not an either-or approach however. Both hands, you will see, are intertwined in a process that was designed to give you what you were made for. This process comes to us in the form of a gift.
Each of us has been presented with a gift. God has intentionally made this gift available to you. That gift is called salvation.
Just like any wrapped gift though, you won’t experience the benefits of it if you leave it untouched. You have to unwrap it. By responding to the gift, by opening it, you receive what the gift has been intended to give you.
Another way to think of the gift of salvation is by thinking of basketball. God has provided you with all of the equipment. He has even put a basketball in your hands. Now it’s up to you to open that gift, to take that breath in, and to shoot the basketball.
When I was singing the song and thought of this, I made an intentional choice to breathe in life rather than continuing to gasp for air. I took action by opening the gift. I shot the basketball. I took a deep breath in, but even though I exhaled, it felt like the breath had stayed in me.
Finally, my lungs were satisfied. Yet, one question remains. Why was I thinking of Jesus when I thought of “breath of life?”
To answer that question, we cannot forget what makes opening the gift possible. We cannot forget the reason why God is able to place the basketball in our hands in the first place.
When we take in that breath of new life, when we open the gift, we are not resuscitated. We are not brought back to life. Rather, we are brought to a new one.
It is through Jesus that all of this is possible. Jesus is our connection to God. It is through Jesus that we come to know God. Jesus suffered and died on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven.
Perhaps more important than Jesus suffering for you though, is the fact he rose from the dead. Jesus was not resuscitated. He was resurrected, and because of this, there is hope.
There is hope because we can receive new life too, just like Jesus. We have to first respond to the gift. We have to take in that breath. Jesus is your breath of life. Because of Jesus, you have the option to open the gift. Jesus is how the basketball is put into our hands.
Jesus did not allow himself to suffer on the cross for no reason at all. He went through that pain for you.
When we take in that breath of new life, when we open the gift, we are not resuscitated. We are not brought back to life. Rather, we are brought to a new one. In this way we become like Christ.
In summary, there is a process to breathing in eternal life. God makes the gift of life available for you. He puts it in your hands thanks to Jesus. It’s up to you to open it. By taking in that first breath and committing to it, eternal life is breathed into you. You receive salvation.
So, how have you been breathing up to this point? If you’ve been gasping for air lately, you’re not alone. If you’re tired of being out-of-breathe, remember, you have a gift that has been waiting to be opened.
Breathing in air is what we need to survive. It resuscitates us, only so that we can continue to gasp.
Breathing in life and allowing for life to be breathed into us through Jesus is what makes us thrive. It’s what resurrects us.
What an amazing gift.