One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. --Matthew 4:4
It is the breath that is important. It is the breath that keeps the heart beating and the body alive. As the Psalm says, ‘...when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust. When you send forth your spirit, they are created;’ (Psalm 104:29b-30a) It is the breath that calms the troubled soul. When you are in a crisis, or you are suffering from the effects of too much stress, or you have just had an argument with someone you love, or you have just been fired from your job – breathe. Sit down and breathe. Watch your flattened soul beginning to be revived. Watch your hurting heart straining toward hope. Feel the in-spiring, the in-breathing of God’s great Spirit lifting you with the air of heaven.
It is so easy in our culture to rely on food and drink rather than attentive breathing when life has acted upon us with impunity. Food becomes our comfort, our stay. We can find in food and drink the anesthetic for our pain. The anesthetic, however, is little more than a clever masquerade, a colorful Mardi Gras disguise that deadens the pain for a time. After the effects of the anesthetic wear off, our pain feels sharper and our soul still disturbed.
Food sustains life, but breath gives life. It might be good to set down the spoon, turn the attention inward, and breathe the air of God into the taut and tender spaces that lie untended within.
O God create in me a longing for the tastes of heaven that come from the breath of your mouth.
These meditations by Renee Miller first appeared at explorefaith.org
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