During my Year 9 maths lessons at school, I used to enjoy testing the capacity of my lungs. I would take a deep breath then watch the clock at the front of the class. How long could I hold my breath? I built up my endurance through the year, from around 15 seconds up to just under 2 minutes!
You’ve probably been told these four words before - usually before a big moment, or a daring dive, or a new challenge…
“Take a deep breath”.
This week marks the start of a new school year for most 4-18 year olds around Leicestershire. And accompanying a new term are new challenges, new classes, new classrooms, new schools, new buildings, new teachers and many new opportunities. And before starting anything I want to encourage you with those same four words - “take a deep breath”.
I don’t mean ‘pluck up some courage’ or ‘give it your all’ (although they are great four-word phrases). I don’t even mean ‘you can do it’ or ‘get ready to go’. When I say take a deep breath, I want you to think of a different type of breath.
“You give life / You are love / You bring life to the darkness
It’s your breath in our lungs / so we pour out our praise”
(‘Great Are You Lord’, All Sons and Daughters)
In the beginning God created all things and he created people (Genesis 1-2). The first thing that God did as he faced the first man was draw near and breathe his breath into his nostrils. But this was not a first-man, Adam special - when you were born, God breathed his breath into your body too. Your first breath was not simply one of earthly air, but it was the very breath of God. God gives life to all living things and breathed His life into us.
“The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” (Job 33:4)
God’s heart is not to fill you once then leave you to ‘pluck up some courage’ and ‘give it your all’. God’s love for you does not allow for a simple and man-focused ‘you can do it’ and ‘get ready to go’. God’s heart is to breathe his breath of life into your nostrils again.
So before anything new, pause. Be still. Remember that Your all-loving, life-giving, soul-sustaining God is ready to fill you with His life again. Let Him draw near to you. Then open your nostrils, open your mind, open your heart...
...and take a deep breath.