“The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” Job 33:4
Over the holiday weekend, my husband and I took our little dog over the mountains into North Carolina to walk up to Max Patch. It’s one of several “balds” along the Appalachian Trail—these are naturally-occurring grassy mountaintop meadows where you would expect to find forests.
The advantage of climbing to these summits is that they often afford 360-degree views of the surrounding mountains. There’s usually a bluish haze over the landscape due to the extra moisture (hence, the monikers Blue Ridge Mountains and Smoky Mountains), and you expect to fill your lungs with the purest, freshest air in the region.
That’s not been the case since our mountains have been extra-hazy in recent days. It’s a lingering effect of the recent Saharan dust storm, dubbed “Godzilla,” one of the largest in decades. Dirt from the arid African plains gets picked up by strong upper winds and carried across the Atlantic to be deposited here, actually providing soil nutrients for North America and the Amazon rainforest.
These powdery clouds, however, can make it a bit difficult for those of us with asthma to catch our breath. Fortunately, the very masks we wear now to shield us from airborne droplets carrying coronavirus can also help keep out the dust particles. Who knew we’d have this extra benefit from masking up?!?
All this has happened just when we really needed a breath of fresh air! In the murky atmosphere of current news events, we need to do some deep breathing…in healthy “air”…for clarity and healing. We need the Breath of Life, the Holy Spirit, to come in and do His work in all of us.
The very name Holy Spirit comes from the Latin word spiritus which means breath…it’s also where we get the word “respirator.” Many suffering in hospitals with COVID are fighting for their lives with every breath. Those of us who have not been adversely affected yet by this dreadful disease need to thank God for every moment we inhale and exhale.
We must never take our air purity for granted. We need to minimize pollution around us by avoiding unnecessary trips…and we need keep our eyes on God as our “respirator” to keep us going.
When you “can’t breathe” from hopelessness or anger…when you choke on the bad news, fears, restless thoughts, or conflict…take a deep breath and plunge into His word. Go to the Holy Spirit in prayer, and let His presence infuse you with relief. Let His soothing balm of peace wash over you and guide you toward making wise choices and moving forward.
I hope you get the privilege of catching some fresh air today or soon, away from smoggy cities, smoky lounges, diesel-fumed highways, moldy bathrooms, bleachy hospital corridors, or other closed-up spaces. I hope you can head to leafy woods or open spaces now that the Sahara sand is drifting away. Even your backyard can be a momentary oasis of calm.
Going outdoors truly makes you feel closer to the Holy Spirit Himself, and you become more aware of His gifts and blessings to you. May you be blessed with His presence, His healing power, and the life-giving love and joy He offers.
Holy Spirit, breathe new life in us. Grant us all the exquisite gifts—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control—that You so freely provide. We’re in short supply of them right now…please come “replenish the shelves” of our hearts so that we may generously offer these provisions to others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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