“Mail’s here early today!” called Lorna, as she entered the kitchen.
Oh, that was good news. Living far from home in Quito, Ecuador made letters a very precious commodity.
“Terrific!” I responded, and dashed upstairs to get my keys.
Lorna and her husband, Elbert, served as missionaries with HCJB. I was a short-termer, living with them for the four months of my assignment as a preschool and kindergarten teacher.
The compound was only a brief walk from the house. Once there, it was just a matter of unlocking the gate, heading down the main walkway a short distance, up a few steps, and into the post office alcove where all of our mailboxes were located.
I jogged the whole way there and back, excited to read my mail. But no sooner did I return home than my head started to pound, nausea engulfed me, and all I wanted to do was lie down. Never mind those coveted letters!
My problem was not a sudden onset of the flu, but mild hypoxia–oxygen deprivation. Quito is located 10,000 feet above sea level in the Andes Mountains.
My experience proves, as well as those of countless others: we humans require oxygen—lots of it.
Even folks who live near sea level can suffer from lack of oxygen, because they’ve become accustomed to shallow breathing. Their bodies never receive enough oxygenated air, causing them to feel short of breath and anxious.
On the other hand, research has proven that deep breathing helps us manage stress and anxiety, lower blood pressure and heart rate, and even spark brain growth. By not taking slow, deep breaths now and again, we deprive ourselves of these benefits.
M-m-m. Reminds me of Ecclesiastes 2:10-11, where King Solomon lamented the results of shallow living: chasing after wealth, accomplishments, and pleasure. In the end, nothing gave him lasting satisfaction and fulfillment.
Shallow living brings on symptoms in the spirit, similar to oxygen deprivation in the mind and body: heartache, fatigue with life, nausea from repetitive, meaningless activity, and shortness of temper.
In contrast to Solomon’s lament in Ecclesiastes is Paul’s praise to God for the power and strength of deep living:
“Oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength” (Ephesians 1:19, The Message)!
Deep living happens when we breathe in God’s strength with a prayer, his wisdom and encouragement with a scripture, his joy with a song.
Deep living happens when we practice his presence as automatically as we breathe.
And how do we do that, “practice his presence?”
It’s just a matter of pausing frequently throughout each day, to turn our attention to God.
I might say such things as:
- Thank You, Lord, for this new day. Work through me to accomplish your purpose.
- I love you, Heavenly Father. Thank you for filling my heart with peace and joy every time I turn my attention to you.
- Thank you for your power at work in me as I complete this task.
- The wonders of your creation–graceful tree branches dancing in the breeze, lyrical songs of the mockingbirds, delicious aromas of pine and orange blossoms–They make my heart sing with praise!
- Oh, Lord, I shouldn’t have spoken to Mary like that. Forgive me, I pray. Help me to think before I speak. And yes, I will apologize to her.
Refreshing. Energizing. Purifying. Like a deep breath of oxygen.
Shallow breathing causes a lesser quality of life. So does shallow living.
Deep breathing fosters strength of mind and body. Deep living does that and more.
Deep living radically transforms the spirit.
Let’s breathe/live deep!
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What deep living habits help you practice the presence of God?