Breathing Hard

I heard an old Christmas favorite by Amy Grant yesterday morning, one of many CDs I never got around to this year for some reason (and yes, it is perfectly okay to listen to Christmas music until the end of December, especially when you’ve been too busy before Christmas to enjoy it properly). I remember the year this album came out, when the mix of babies at home and holiday events became just too overwhelming. As a young mother in ministry, realizing Mary’s dependency on the Holy Spirit to accomplish the difficult thing she was called to do sparked a longing to know His powerful help in my own Everyday.

I listen to the song now, these many years later, and recognize God’s presence woven through– know that it was His strength that helped me, His light that guided me through many dark and confusing days, His own heart poured into mine so I could be a help to others. And this is the Christmas miracle that lasts into the New Year: the very Breath of Heaven that overshadowed young Mary is the same One who says to us “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10) The holy Presence that knit flesh and Spirit together to bring forth the Messiah, and comforted Mary through that uncertain time is the same the Musician-King sang about: “You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.” (Psalm 139:5) The Spirit of the Living God has entered this world to live with us. Not just for certain special people, or for specific important tasks, but for everyday living. This is why Paul the Apostle could tell people plainly that now we can “reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from any one of us. ‘For in Him we live and move and have our being.’” (Acts 17:27)The Christ Child grew up in this world, lived and died and lived again, and when He went back Home He promised “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” (John 14:18) And so the Breath of Heaven comes to live in our fragile clay– simple Christ-followers, made temples by His presence.

This Advent season, everyday life seems to weigh heavy: real people baring their hearts in small groups; late night phone calls, and early morning texts asking for prayer, or for a listening ear; a deluge of tears and general messiness of all kinds. I think of those who are grieving for children lost, and others who are facing impossible circumstances, and the ones who are wondering where they went wrong and how to live out their faith in the place where they are. So many people who are searching for answers. So many who are longing for God’s touch, and just plain weary in their Everyday…seems like many of us could echo Mary’s prayer for help, this Christmas season.  Maybe it is the best way to pray for each other, here at the beginning of a New Year, that the divine Wind would blow through the ordinary in unexpected ways. Maybe there’s no way we can get through today or tomorrow, unless we remind each other often that God is with us, no matter how it looks– He is as close as our next breath. Maybe the only way we can leave the old year behind and face the new one, in spite of problems that seem like they are here to stay, is to remember that we have a Comforter-Helper who will not leave us either. And He is calling “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) It’s me as much as anyone who needs to come close and give it up to Him… just lay it down and breathe deep.


“We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.” Colossians 1:9-12


“I believe everything that You say You are;
I believe that I have seen Your unchanging heart.
In the good things and in the hardest part,
I believe and I will follow You.
I believe and I will follow You.”
(I Will Follow, Vertical Church)