January 14, 2020
Are You Choking Yourself?
A friend recently asked about my most treasured memories. Besides the natural answers, my wedding day, the births of my 3 daughters, and a few milestones with Martine and the girls. I was at a loss to answer his question on the spot. But the question haunted me for a few days. Did I not have any treasured memories? That just couldn’t be!
Later, as I began flipping through the photo album of my mind and heart, a collection of treasured memories started to crystallize. I recalled moments when I felt special … times when I knew I was loved. I also recalled times of adventure, various accomplishments, and challenging episodes in which God used adversity for valuable reflection and growth. There were times of excitement and anticipation … of connection and fulfillment. I was reflecting on how long ago some of those memories were created. All of a sudden, I began yearning for that feeling of newness or excitement … yearning to have monumental moments like those as frequently when I or the girls were kids.
The Bible tells us we are meant to live in a world like that—every day. Just as our lungs are made to breathe oxygen, our souls are designed to flourish in an atmosphere rich in love and meaning, security and significance, intimacy and exploration. But most of us live in a world where these things aren’t that prevalent anymore. Far from it.
We try to resolve the dilemma by turning to materialism, illicit sex, drugs, food, sports, excessive busyness, buying, gossiping, caffeine, our kids, money, our looks, health, and many other quick, shallow fixes. But they don’t work. We never get what we need to flourish. It’s the soul’s equivalent of holding your breath or choking. Eventually, you find yourself desperately gasping for air.
Turning from those quick fixes isn’t easy. Believe me, I know. What finally helped set me free was this simple realization: even though the right way isn’t easy, the wrong way is a lot harder. That life was so tiring and draining for me. Look at the turmoil, consequences, and the fruit of the flesh you reap when doing life the wrong way. At the end of each day, it’s a net loss. The right way is hard, but yields a huge net gain at the end of the day, namely, the fruit of the spirit and the benefits of growing closer to God.
Today, know that your Lord and God is ready to breathe true life into you. Identify one of the quick but shallow fixes in your life. Turn away from just one thing that obstructs the windpipe of your soul causing you to gasp for air. Now turn toward Him, the Giver of the life you were meant to live. There is no easy way. Whether you choose the right way and breathe freely, or you choke yourself using the wrong, painful, and impossible path is your decision, so choose well.
Dear Father God, I confess, that I have been holding my spiritual breath … sometimes even choking myself with self-imposed impediments to breathing in Your life. I am truly gasping for air. Help me, Lord, to turn away from everything that deprives me of oxygen and separates me from You. Help me recognize the things that choke me. Do not even let them come close to my mouth. I rejoice in You, Father. I find joy in You, the God of my salvation. I pray in the name of the One who died so I might be free to breathe and to flourish, Jesus Christ; and all God’s children say – AMEN!
the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. Genesis 2:7
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness 2 Timothy 3:16
So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army. Ezekiel 37:10
Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls— Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The LORD God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, And He will make me walk on my high hills. Habakkuk 3:17-19