That’s the reading on my son’s chest therapy machine, known as “The Vest.” Over the last six years, he has sat connected to this device for a total of 60.6 days! His previous machine indicated even more hours before it finally had to be replaced.
Cystic fibrosis tries to slowly suck the life out of him. So twice a day, he connects himself to “The Vest” as he breathes in an array of nebulized medications. To him, it can seem like a waste of time. He can’t see an immediate result from not doing “The Vest.” So he’d rather be doing something that feels more productive. Letting go of his plans can seem like hard work.
But this activity — which seems so passive — is anything but. Without it, cystic fibrosis slowly, but methodically, infiltrates his lungs. This “passive” therapy is actively helping clear his lungs of potentially harmful bacteria. It is literally allowing life and breath to penetrate his lungs and body.
It is some of the most valuable minutes of his day. Getting connected enables and empowers him live life fully!
We can sometimes approach our time with God in the way that Micah views “The Vest,” as an obligatory and confining activity that is preventing us from getting on with our to-do list and more tangibly “productive” activities.
In reality, life and the world slowly and methodically infiltrates our minds and hearts. We have to allow time with God, being in His Word, to filter out the ways the world has infected our minds. We need the Holy Spirit to breathe life into us. To give us His wisdom, energy and direction. Not only in the morning, but throughout our day.
God is the Breath of Life. In Genesis, He ” breathed into (Adam’s) nostrils the breath of life.” In the New Testament, after Jesus’ Resurrection, shortly before He returned to heaven, He said this to His disciples: “Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I am sending you. Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (John 20:21-22)
You see, friends, we are dead without Him. Sure we can walk around going through the motions, even believing we’re being pretty productive and successful. But without the Breath of Life, the world is slowly infecting us.
Like His disciples, He is sending us out on a mission — to do His work. But often, we’re doing it without sufficient Oxygen. Like Micah, we may not notice it immediately, but the cumulative effect of life without regular, deliberate, intentional time with the Breath of Life will slowly destroy us.
God calls us to “be still and know that (He) is God.” (Ps. 46:10) Be “still” doesn’t mean what I thought it always meant. In this verse, it means to submit or let go. To turn over our will and plans to God.
Each day should start with being still, but it is something that we should and can do many, many times during our day. It’s means a constant dialogue — bringing God into every decision. At first, it seems unnatural, but as I’ve done it more and more, I don’t know how I lived any other way.
“Giving up” to God is what empowers us. It seems totally backwards, doesn’t it? But God has always done things differently — from sending His Son —the King of Kings — to be born in a manger to telling Namaan to dip seven times in the stinky Nile River to cure him of leprosy.
His ways may not make sense to us, but they literally bring life and healing when we follow them.
I shudder to think how many times I’ve started the day with my “obligatory” quiet time and then rushed off to my to-do list. He was on top of the list, but now I had checked Him off. Now, off to get things done.
The more time I’ve spent with God over these last few months, I’ve realized that starting the day with Oxygen, by “being still” all day long, He gives me what I need to approach and walk through my day: wisdom (often that I don’t even know I’m going to need for that day!), rest, sweetness, energy, patience … the list is endless.
We have direct access to the God of the universe who knows us, who knows everything! Stop and think about that for a moment. Who better to be in charge of our to-do lists and our days?
Here are just a few ways I’ve seen the benefits of breathing in the Breath of Life:
He orders my priorities.
In my time with Him, before I start my day, I’ve been asking Him to show me what needs to be done and what I need to let go of. I ask Him to show me what needs to be done first. And He brings things to mind I hadn’t thought of. He gives me an uneasiness about other tasks on my list. I give Him my “to-do” list and He lovingly and wisely rewrites it.
He gives me energy for the day.
In John 15, Jesus says, “Abide in Me, and I will abide in you. A branch cannot bear fruit if it is disconnected from the vine, and neither will you if you are not connected to Me.” David Guzik’s Commentary on the Bible explains it this way: “Fruit bearing is impossible without abiding; but it is inevitable with abiding. The quality and quantity of the fruit may differ, but the fruit will be inevitable.”
A branch quickly dies when it’s disconnected from the vine. When it’s connected and watered it has life and beauty and energy. That’s what connection to the Vine does for each of us.
He gives me wisdom.
I’m a mess without Him. The wreckage of poor decisions and ill-chosen words have left a trail of destruction and missed opportunities behind me. I’m literally afraid to make a single decision with out Him. I’ve experienced enough pain of my own “wisdom,” that I have a form of PTSD (I’m not kidding) when I think of going down my own paths.
When I am “still” and connect to Him, He direct my paths and gives me the wisdom I need to navigate my day. It prevents me from going down exhausting rabbit trails. When we’re in tune with God, we know His will more fully.
He takes away the overwhelm.
I don’t have to figure everything out. When I’m connected to God, I just have to follow His leading, step by step. When anxiety goes down, productivity increases.
He keeps our integrity intact.
On the same vein, when we overcommit, we can’t follow through. How do I know? Because I’ve done it countless times. I don’t mean to break my word, but when I overcommit I under-follow through. Which is just a nice way of saying that I don’t keep my word. And that affects my integrity. I want to be someone people can count on. I want to mean what I say.
He gives us joy.
This one I didn’t expect. I’m a hard worker. Faithful. Performance-oriented. But I’ve never really allowed myself to feel joy without guilt.
With so much to be done, who has time or permission to be joyful?! God is showing me, as He reveals Himself to me, that joy is a natural result as we know Him more. Because we become overwhelmed with His goodness. We overflow with thanksgiving. And gratefulness bring us —and Him — great joy. No guilt required.
I know our days our busy. Difficult. Overwhelming. All the more reason to “let go” and connect to the Breath of Life.
It is the most productive thing we will do all day.
He is the God who made the world and everything in it … He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need. (Acts 17:24-25)