Breath of God

candleThere are constant reminders that this is not our home.  The pain of this world increases the sacred ache within us.  The sacred ache that began at the moment of creation when the Creator took dust of the earth and combined it with the breath of life.

Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life… – Genesis 2:7

The holy mingling with the common.

And that is how it has been ever since. Earthly desires war against heavenly pursuits.  We look to the world, the dust from which we came, for meaning.  And, in so doing, we forget that it was not until the God breath entered us that we truly began to live.

…and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. – Genesis 2:7

The dust of this world can only give us the form, or appearance, of living.  When we cling to this mirage of peace we settle for less than the abundant life He intends for us to have.  We content ourselves with dry bones when God breath is available to us.

Life is available to us.  No matter where we have been or where we currently find ourselves.  No matter what wounds we have endured.  When a situation seems bleak and hopeless, we only need for God to breathe.

Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live. – Ezekiel 37:9

May our prayer be today that God would simply breathe on us so that we may live.

*Repost from the archives.

In His Image

I remember the first time someone said, “she looks just like you.”  I had never thought of myself as particularly pretty or remarkable in any way.  Yet, to have someone look at one of my children and see a resemblance?  I could not hold back the smile of pride.  Yes, that one looks just like me.  I see myself in her. Maybe that is why I’m struck by the words of God Himself.  In the midst of a spectacular masterpiece of creation, He had one more thing to create.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” – Genesis 1:26

He could have made us in any form or fashion.  Yet, he wanted us to resemble Him.  He wanted to watch us as a proud Father and be able to say, “I see myself in her.”

What does it even mean – that we were made in His image?  It means that others should see something of Him in us.

When we go out of our way to bring His love to a hurting world? We resemble Him.

When we decide to really treat others as more important than ourselves? We are bearing His image.

God is very creative.  And sometimes we get all caught up in how He created us specifically.  What are our spiritual gifts?  What talents have we been given?  What is His plan for our lives?

And those are all important things to know and use for His glory.  But, when He created Adam, He did not say, “Let us make a man with the gift of hospitality and the ability to sing and who will one day record a hit song.”

God filled His hands with the dust of the earth, formed a man, breathed God breath into his nostrils and said, “This one here? He will resemble Me.”

What are you going to do today that will cause an onlooker to say, “That one there? She looks a lot like Him.”

Facing the Fearful

Sometimes, God calls us to fearful things.  He leads us to walk on stormy seas and to risk all that we have in obedience to Him.  Yet, what I love about God is that He does not tell us the what and then leave us to figure out the how.  What is a person to do when God sends us out to confront our fears?

Then the Lord said to him, “Go back to the land of your fathers and to your family, and I will be with you.” – Genesis 31:3 HCSB

Go back home.  Those must have been scary words for Jacob.  Surely, he still remembered why he left home. His brother, Esau, was intent on killing him for stealing their father’s blessing.  Jacob fled for his life and had no reason to believe anything had changed in Esau’s heart.  What was Jacob’s response? Honest obedience.

In the face of great fear and distress, Jacob does four things. 

  1. He calls upon God. (Genesis 32:9)  Whether we are dealing with fear, disappointment or sadness, there is only one place we should turn.
  2. He remembers his place before God. (Genesis 32:10)  We are deserving of nothing good from God’s hand.
  3. He admits his fear to God. (Genesis 32:11) We must go to God with our feelings.
  4. He remembers the Word of God. (Genesis 32:12)  In our times of fear and distress, we must remember the promises of God.

There is no way around it – sometimes God calls us to face the fearful things in our lives.  But, look back at God’s words to Jacob.  He instructs Jacob to face his fear and He promises to be with him in the same breath.

We do not face our fears alone.

Photo courtesy of Dr. Joseph Valk

The Covenant-Keeper

I am making my way through Joshua and have come upon Chapter 5.  I love how the Matthew Henry Bible Commentary prefaces the analysis of this chapter…”Israel has now gotten over the Jordan, and the waters which had opened before them, to favor their march forward, are closed again behind them, to forbid their retreat backward.”  There is no going back with God…only forward. 

Joshua has led the Israelites across the Jordan and they are now in the Promised Land.  Immediately upon entering Canaan, Joshua is told to have all of the men circumcised.  When I first read this,  I must admit, it did not mean much to me.  However, there was a note in my Bible that linked this verse to Genesis 17:11…

…and you shall be cirumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you.

This is when God initiates His covenant with Abraham.  Abraham was told to circumcise every male child and it was to be a sign of the covenant between God and Abraham.  Webster’s defines covenant as a solemn and binding agreement; a promise.  This was not something that either party entered into lightly.  God promised in Genesis 17:8 that He would be their God.  So…back to Joshua.

A lot had taken place since God had made His promise to Abraham…to be the Israelites’ God.  The Israelites had doubted, fallen and sinned.  A whole generation wandered in the wilderness until every last one of them died because of their sin.  But, now, God has brought this new generation into the Promised Land and He tells Joshua…

At that time, the Lord said to Joshua, “Make flint knives for yourself, and circumcise the sons of Israel again…”  –Joshua 5:2

It’s as if God is saying to these weary travelers…I am still your God. 

It breaks my heart when my Emily is in trouble for something and she knows I am not happy with her actions.  She will come up to me and say “Do you still love me?”  Or, one time, she asked me “Am I still your doodlebop?”  That is my special name for her.  I scoop her up in my arms and look her square in the face and tell her “I will always love you and you will always be my doodlebop.”

I can’t help but think that this is what God is doing.  He is reminding the Israelites of His promise.  In Beth Moore’s study, A Woman’s Heart: God’s Dwelling Place, she refers to God as the Covenant-Keeper.  He is nothing, if not true to His Word.  With this second mass circumcision, God is telling His children, I will always love you and you are still My children. 

God has such a tender heart for His children…and that definitely includes us.  He forgives our sins and our failures.  He picks us up when we have fallen.  And when we come to Him wondering how in the world He could still love us…

This is what the LORD says:
       “The people who survive the sword
       will find favor in the desert;
       I will come to give rest to Israel.”

 The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying:
       “I have loved you with an everlasting love;
       I have drawn you with loving-kindness.

 I will build you up again
       and you will be rebuilt, O Virgin Israel.
       Again you will take up your tambourines
       and go out to dance with the joyful.
— Jeremiah 31:2-4

Wrestling with God

I feel like I am currently wrestling with God. 

I think God is leading me in a certain direction, but I struggle with not knowing all of the details.  I’m afraid to commit without knowing the long term plan.  I question whether or not I am understanding God correctly.  Every time I think I know what is about to happen…I am blindsided by a different set of circumstances or possibilities.  My husband said it perfectly when he recently said “I feel like I’m running a marathon and they keep moving the finish line.”   

Taking my current circumstances into account, it is only appropriate that I have been reading in Genesis about Jacob.   Jacob who wrestled with God…literally.  All night they wrestled.  I feel like I’ve been there.  I have wrestled with God many nights trying to figure out where He was leading me.  And, even when I feel like He has told me, I then struggle with the why and the how.  In some ways, I feel like I can empathize with Jacob.

Jacob was heading home.  It had been twenty years since he had lied to his father, Isaac, and stolen the blessing intended for his brother, Esau.  Twenty years since he had fled from Canaan.  He had started a new life.  He was a married man with numerous offspring and much wealth.  His life was quite comfortable and I can’t help but think that Jacob would have been happy living out the rest of his days there.  However, a rift develops between Jacob and his father-in-law and he is forced to leave his home once again.  Where will he go now?

The Lord said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your family, and I will be with you.”  ~Genesis 31:3

Jacob is told to go home.  Home.  The same home with the angry brother who wanted him dead.  The same home with the father who had been deceived years before.  And God gives Jacob no indication regarding the kind of welcome he will receive.  He just tells him, “I will be with you.”  I’m not giving you all of the answers right now, Jacob.  I’m not going to ease your mind.  I’m not going to tell you what is going to happen.  But, I will be with you.

This is where faith comes in to play.  This is where I have a chance to show that I believe what I say I believe.  Though I have not been given all (or any) of the answers, I trust anyway.  I walk in the direction God leads and I don’t worry about the end destination.  I just trust that God is with me on the journey.  After all, I would much rather walk with God into unknown territory than stay in the comfort of the known by myself.