Jill was seven years old when we first met. I was her pastor. Ginger curls reflected the fiery nature within her little girl spirit. Adventure was her mojo. Now a Grade 6 teacher, she realized a lifetime dream of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in 2021.
As you climb the highest mountain in Africa the air gets thin. Incredibly thin. The higher you go the less you can talk because you have to focus on your breathing. It was one shallow breath after the other, one slow step after the other. She timed her breathing with her steps… a few steps at a time, then a stop to catch her breathing up. Concentrating only on the air drawing in and out of her lungs sustained her when the mountain’s terrain felt impossible.
She summited during a blizzard.
Oxygen was harder to come by with each step. Ten minutes from the peak she fainted. With each laboured inhale and exhale, she understood what it means to just breathe.
Breath of Life
My word for 2023 is “breathe.”
Rather than make resolutions I allow a word to find me. Yah, I don’t choose the word, the word chooses me. Over the last decade, the words of the year had prophetic effects. They predicted what I would face and could rely on during the next 12 months. In late December, the word “breathe” was continuously on my mind. So, I listened to my soul and embraced the word.
Breathing is a very powerful biblical image. In Genesis God creates humanity from the clay of the earth. Yet the human being is merely a lifeless work of clay pottery until God breathes into the nostrils of the human. It is that first breath that gives life. God’s Spirit is described as breath.
One incredible thing about breathing is that you don’t have to think about.
One does not have to be a champion breather to have breath. Neither does one have to be a champion Christian to have God’s Spirit within. The best part is, even when we are not aware of it, that powerful Spirit fills our lives in ways we may never fully know or appreciate. Isn’t that freeing?
When we are least able to take the time to think of God and God’s presence, just like breathing, God is still right there. If that is reality when we are not thinking about it, imagine the power when we take the time to be deliberate and really give God’s Holy Spirit some serious thought.
Breathe. Breathe deep. Fill your lungs with the breath that flows from the One who created you and called you good.
Response to Stress
Here’s how my word is helping me. Stress, worry, and fear are triggers that cause us to either speed up or hold our breath. I tend to hold my breath. This stress response happens automatically due to our innate fight, flight, or freeze response.
Numerous times in January 2023 I have responded to unexpected stress and setbacks with a simple reminder to breathe. Just breathe.
I love the Message version of Psalm 31:6,7 – “You, God, I trust. I’m leaping and singing in the circle of your love; you saw my pain, you disarmed my tormentors. You didn’t leave me in their clutches but gave me room to breathe.”
Breathe. Breathing in response to life’s pained moments is a reminder to trust God. “I trust you God. Things don’t look or feel good. But I trust You.”
Breathe. God doesn’t leave us alone. God doesn’t leave us in the clutches of crisis. Life’s tormentors are disarmed.
Breathe. The best room in your life is room to breathe.
“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!” Psalm 150:6
Are you conscious of your breath? Do you practise breathing techniques? Do you trust God? Please leave a comment below. Thank you.
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What a wonderful journey & great story Jill. I have a friend who hiked it, but did not climb it yet. She shared on her story board every day she was there. Plus, she was definitely struggling to get her breathe as she was telling us her experience. She is now training to go back to tackle…climbing it higher. A brave young lady just like you. I do not have the need, to have that on my bucket list. Different strokes for different folks. I’m 61 & I don’t need to challenge myself that way. I will just stick to making it to my travelling destinations as I get older. Much safer & not much risk. But, I loved reading your story. Keep on, keeping on. & a Big “Thank you” to Pastor Bob for posting your story.
Another great article. Breath and breathing, what great gifts, allowing us to explore and appreciate the various experiences of life!
You’re 61!? Enjoy your travels.