“Job again took up his discourse and said: ‘As God lives, who has taken away my right, and the Almighty, who has made my soul bitter, as long as my breath is in me and the spirit of God is in my nostrils, my lips will not speak falsehood, and my tongue will not utter deceit.”
“Take a deep breath and hold it. Let it out. Deep breath. Hold it. Let it out.”
I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV. I’m not checking your breathing but simply encouraging you to become aware of the Holy Spirit breathing into you. Biblically speaking, every breath you take, you are drawing from the Holy Spirit.
Breathe in…breathe out…we do it 12-14 times per minute, 17,000 to 20,000 times a day, without usually thinking about it. We just do it. But it is the Holy Spirit breathing His very life into us.
I see this in today’s Scripture text in which Job swears an oath: “as long as my breath is in me and the spirit of God is in my nostrils…” That gets my attention because Job understands that each breath, he takes is the Spirit of God breathing life into him. That’s how close God is to us! Breathing life into our noses! Elsewhere Job exults: “The spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life” (Job 33:4). Here’s important data left out of human anatomy texts!
Notably in both the Hebrew Old Testament and Greek New Testament, the same word (ruach and pneuma) can be translated both breath and spirit. God’s Spirit is as close to us as our very breath!
People often associate the Holy Spirit with spectacular and rare experiences, but Job associates the Holy Spirit with all day long breathing precious life into him. It’s a miracle! But a miracle so close to us that we seldom give it thought. All day long we are breathing in the Holy Spirit and yet we do not notice. Augustine of Hippo reminded that God’s Holy Spirit is “higher than my highest and more inward than my innermost self.” (Augustine, Confessions, 6, 11). In other words, the Holy Spirit is closer to us than we are to ourselves!
Stop and ponder it! God is as close to you right now as the breath you are receiving. “The soul is in God and God is in the soul. God is closer to us than water is to a fish…A fish pulls oxygen out of water to breathe. God is closer. God is our breath. He sustains us.” (Catherine of Siena, The Dialogue)
Take a moment to breathe deep and ponder these lines from a poem of Quaker poet Geoffrey Weeden:
“Breathe in the quiet purpose of this place;
Through outward stillness, seek a calm within.
Here we find forgiveness and forgive;
Here feel the healing miracle begin.
Breathe in communion, friend with quiet friend,
Each drawing closer to this timeless hour;
As all our different needs and gifts are drawn
To the one source of comfort, love and power.”
A fellow traveler,