I am a runner of the 5K variety. I like to get out a few times a week for a few miles. This summer, however, I have been terribly inconsistent. If you’ve ever taken a break from exercise, you know how long it can take to get back into it, both making time in your schedule and getting the old body back into condition.
While out doing the latter a few weeks ago, I got to thinking about breathing. When I’m on a flat stretch, I need to keep my legs moving and breathe evenly. Breathe in, two, three. And out, two, three. But if I want to be able to make it up a hill ahead of me, I need to breathe evenly and deep. I’ve got to inhale and exhale hard, so I can still be standing when I reach the top!
On all types of terrain, a runner must keep breathing. Lose control of breathing and languish. Quit breathing and collapse. Those realities remind me of our need as Christians to breathe deep of the Lord. Life is a course with wide-open, flat stretches of routine, unremarkable days, steep hills that push us to our limits, downhills that bring peace and relief, and lengthy, low-grade uphills that require long-suffering endurance.
While running the terrain of life, we cannot stop breathing deep of the Lord. For we, like a runner, will stumble and fall, or collapse, without faith-sustaining breaths. The good news? We don’t have to run through life gasping for air! The Good Shepherd loves us and has provided for us. Just as a runner trusts that deep breaths will fill her lungs with what she needs to keep going, the believer can trust that breathing deep of the Lord will provide what she needs to stay strong and press on in the faith.
How can we breathe deep of the Lord?
Thankfully, breathing deep of the Lord does not require any special degrees or spiritual superiority. Everything we need to breathe deep is readily available to us: the Word, prayer, and worship. We breathe deep by taking advantage of God’s Word and His presence. Concerning these basics, it can be very helpful to do two things: establish a baseline rhythm and breathe deeper when life is hard.
- Establish a baseline rhythm. When I am out running, I often inhale and exhale in rhythm with my steps to help my endurance. Walking by faith is similar. Regular routines for Bible reading, prayer, and corporate worship help us to get in the habit of processing life through the lens of faith so we can endure to the end.
- Breathe deeper when life is hard. As I start going uphill when I’m running, I have to take longer, deeper, and more frequent breaths, maintaining a rhythm but quickening its pace. It is tempting to stop trying to control my breath and gasp my way to the top, rather than fight to maintain even, deep breaths. Similarly, on life’s hills, it is tempting to get frantic, pull back from faith-strengthening habits, and try to hurry away from the difficulty, and maybe even away from God. But the Lord invites us to breathe deeper of Him on those hills – to suck truth into the lungs of our faith with determination and to exhale with zeal the lies that undermine our faith. God is the breath of life for all who believe; we must breathe deeper when life takes us uphill.
May God uses these words to spur you on to breathe deep of the Lord, showing you specific ways to apply what you read here to the stretch of road you have before you to run today.
Keep running by faith, dear women, and don’t forget to breathe deep!
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.
1 Corinthians 9:24-25