The Holy Spirit is at many times connected in scripture through analogy with breath, wind, air. Likewise, the spirit is the aspect of the trinity that gives life – animates that which was dead. We see this in Genesis 1 when the Spirit vibrates, hovers, or broods over the face of the waters and fills the oceans with life. We see this in genesis 2 when the father “breathes” into Adam’s nostrils the “breath of live(s)” and man became a living soul. We see this in the New Testament in that the christians are raised to walk in newness of life – to be “born again” (Rom 6 and John 3). We see that the Spirit begins to indwell the believer at the time of faith and begins the work of transforming the new “child of God” increasingly into his image so that he looks like his heaven father and brother more each day.
In Acts 17, Paul, describing the nature of the on true God to the Athenians said that, “in him we live and move and have our very being (existence)”.
We know God filled the world with many signs designed to point us to him. I believe one of the most impacting of these signs is the air we breathe.
As humans, we live within the atmosphere. It is our sustaining habitat. We cannot live underwater or in outer space. We must have oxygen to breathe. The air touches our skin and fills all the crevices on our body. We breath it into our bodies and it fills our lungs. In filling our lungs, the life-giving oxygen is transferred to our red blood cells which in turn circulate the oxygen throughout our entire body. This oxygen is converted into energy, it helps regulate our core temperature, it allows us to live.
Additionally, we cannot be alive unless we are “in the presence of” the air. It surrounds us and we cannot escape it no matter how hard we try. When we cease to breathe the air, when it ceases to fill us, we die. We become separated from this world – this place created by god as his domain.
Think of God as the freshest air you could breathe – clean, crisp, cool. When we unknowingly or unwillingly breathe polluted air (from factories etc.) We experience the taint of sin and the fall of man because it poisons our bodies. When we willingly breathe polluted air (smoking) we demonstrate our fallen nature and our ability to choose poison over God.
As Paul said in Athens, the one true and living God is not a God who lives “far away ” from us. Rather, he surrounds us with himself. We exist inside him just as we are enveloped with the oxygen-filled atmosphere of the earth. As we move through his creation, walking to our offices, playing at the park, sitting in our living room – with every breath we take we are taking god into ourselves and receiving life. He surrounds us, and fills us and binds us to himself and to each other.
Most of the time I don’t even realize or think about my breathing. It just happens. Thousands of times per day, I inhale and exhale the life-giving air and I don’t even think about it. Maybe this is also a sign of god. Perhaps it tells us that go is so embedded within us and our world that we should think of God and the world as two separate things – disconnected and independent. Rather, perhaps we should think of God and the world as connected like two dancers – intertwined and moving together to a complementary rhythm. As time and creation move, so does God. He is deeply woven into the fabric of us and our world. Just as it is natural for us to not think about our breathing, it is just as natural for us to not consciously recognize God moving around us in this world. It is simply the way the world works and we have grown used to it and are not distracted by it.
However, because of our sinful, fallen nature, we have progressed past the point of no longer being “distracted” by God’s movements in the world. We have progressed so far as to have forgotten his movements all together. This is why the bible is filled with the phrase, “give me eyes to see and ears to hear.” As a species, we humans have given up out ability to see and recognize God’s movements. We have chosen to forget him, so much so that we no longer realize what is symbolized when we breathe. We desperately need to remember, to wake up from our long sleep – to open our eyes once again to the glory of the lord that fills each of our life’s moments. We need to recognize that when we breathe, we are being given another breath of life that heal, feeds and quickens our bodies. We need to understand that as believers we are also continually inhaling and exhaling the breath of god which is the spirit who continually gives life to our personal spirit and regenerates us evermore into his holy image.
There is much going on around us that we fail to see and recognize. This is one of those things. Open your eyes and see.