God's Call to the Breath-filled


Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. Freely receive everything God the Spirit pours into you. From that place of abundance, freely give.

When our younger daughter was small, she contracted whooping cough. At one point, she had such difficulty breathing that I rushed her to a nearby emergency room.

People often wait hours in emergency rooms before seeing a doctor. That day, as soon as we walked in the door, we were whisked to a room, where Amanda received oxygen and immediate medical treatment.

When someone can’t breathe, it’s time to act. Often, however, the person with this problem cannot initiate action. Someone nearby who sees the need must act if the breathless is to breathe again.

When God alerted Ezekiel and John to the dire need of breathless people nearby, he specified different methods, yet told each to do the same thing: Speak up. Cry out.

God the Son told John to write. Indeed, when the risen Christ appeared to John on the isle of Patmos, John heard these words trumpeted first: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches” (Rev. 1:11). After identifying himself as “the Living One,” Jesus reiterated, “Write, therefore, what you have seen... ” (Rev. 1:19). When Jesus introduced his message to the breathless Sardis church, as to all the other six, he repeated the command: “To the angel of the church in Sardis write” (Rev. 3:1).

God the Spirit told Ezekiel to speak aloud. After leading Ezekiel through a valley filled with dry bones and while Ezekiel still stood in the midst, God said, “Prophesy to these bones” (Ezek. 37:4). As soon as Ezekiel did so, the Lord told him, “Prophesy to the breath” (Ezek. 37:9).

God could have delivered his own messages to the Israelites of Ezekiel’s day and the Sardis church of John’s. Yet in both situations, our Lord counted it vital that his cry to the breathless be echoed and declared by a living, breathing person.

He still counts it vital today.

God’s cry to the breathless

Anytime, ever, that you recognize yourself lying scattered and broken like the dry bones in Ezekiel’s vision, the Living One has a message for you. It’s not a message of judgment. It’s not a command to “snap out of it.” Rather, it’s his promise to revive and restore.

If ever you feel hopeless and lifeless, if you become spiritually dry, you cannot initiate your own rescue. But you do choose how you will respond when help arrives.

Ezekiel’s prophecies to the bones and breath and John’s call to the Sardis church both affirm: Our Lord’s part is to give life. Our part is to receive it.

Receiving isn’t passive. It’s active. How many first responders have given mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, yet the breathless person didn’t revive? Breath was given–but it wasn’t received. The breath being poured in did not successfully trigger the person to inhale and exhale again.

What God breathes into us always has the capacity to awaken and restore us, for he himself is the Resurrection and the Life. You will come to life–your spiritual vitality will return–as you quit fighting against him, or shutting yourself off from him, and let the breath of God trigger again your life breath. As you deeply receive what he is pouring into you and freely release his life to those around, you rise up in new strength and vigor, hope and joy.

Breathing blessing

Breathe deeply, beloved of God. Be blessed, and a blessing; blessed, and a blessing. Moment by moment, receive and release the breath of the living God. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. Freely receive everything God the Spirit pours into you. From that place of abundance, freely give.

When you’re dry, admit it. Quit trying to revive yourself. Yield to the one who says, “I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord” (Ezek. 37:6). When you’re filled with breath and you see someone dangerously low in vigor and hope, don’t be silent. Cry out. By the Spirit of Christ, speak words that impart life.

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