“You are not good at wearing a mask, are you?” Marshall said to me as we waited in line to get a COVID test before travelling out of state.
Every five minutes or so I pull my mask down and breathe in a big breath of fresh air. The mask makes me feel suffocated. I am used to breathing free. I need frequent “mask breaks”.
“No, I guess I’m not good at it. And I don’t want to be good at wearing a mask.”
This statement, “I don’t want to be good at wearing a mask,” pricked my heart on several levels. Social. Physical. And Spiritual.
- I don’t want to be good at wearing a mask, because I just won’t accept this as normal.
- I feel like I am suffocating with the mask on.
- God has called me to live transparently. To live “mask-off” with my life and to breathe in his presence.
I don’t want to be good at wearing a mask. But having to wear a mask has heightened my awareness as to how valuable being able to breathe freely is. And has given me a fresh perspective on the high value of air.
I value air. I value being able to take a deep breath and how the oxygen flows through my blood and provides just what my organs need to function properly. Without, or should I say, masked, my body cannot function as God intended it.
Taking in big breaths of air and breathing out slowly I can feel myself calming down. Masked I don’t have the ability to calm myself through deep breathing.
Wearing a mask has brought to my attention my desperate need for air. Not only is my body desperate for air, but so is my soul. It reminds me of how my soul needs the air – the presence of God.
God is the air I breathe. God is the source of health and healing. God is my protector. God and his angels are encamped all around me. God is the fortress and strong tower. He is the rock and refuge. He is the provider. The maker of peace. The one who holds all things together.
He is the air I breathe. And I can’t mask my desperate need for him.
When I was a freshman in college I fell in love with a worship song called “Breathe”. I listened to this song over and over. I listened until the CD began skipping from overuse! It fed my soul as I searched for God. I knew God.
It was away at college that I resonated with the lyrics of this song and I longed for the presence of God like I never had before.
This song is a confession of need. “I’m desperate for you. I’m lost without you.” And it is the call to surrender to my need, “This is the air I breathe. Your holy presence, living in me. This is my daily bread. Your very word, spoken to me.”
The presence of God and the word of God are the air and bread we need to survive. Our souls crave God’s presence and word like our physical bodies crave air and food.
As I was working at my computer last week I had my Spotify playlist on, and this song, Breathe, I hadn’t heard in years, began to play. This song stopped me. I fell to my knees. And I thought, “My God, my God, how desperate I am for you!.”
I realized, as I whimpered before God on the floor of my office, that this feeling of suffocation comes not just from masks, but from living behind screens and from sitting curbside. This feeling of suffocation stems from the various levels of isolation we have all been through this year.
And my soul cried out to God. And here is what he spoke over me.
No matter what we face on this earth in the physical, our spiritual air, our GOD, cannot be taken away from us. His word, the truth and promises of scripture, planted in our hearts cannot be taken from us.
Though our churches have been shut down, God has not stopped being God, and he has not stopped ministering to his people, equipping his people, comforting his people, providing for his people and healing his people.
God’s work is still being done. His presence can still be found, His presence can still be breathed in.
The mask won’t stop the move of God.
The mask won’t keep me from loving my Jesus. The mask won’t stop me from participating in the presence of God that I, that we all, need like the oxygen for our blood.
So I wonder, have you also felt suffocated like I have by the masks? Do you feel like you don’t want to accept the masks as normal? If you feel this way, may I suggest that this is a cry from your heart and soul.
This is a cry from your soul trying to get your attention. Trying to remind you of your need for God’s presence and for God’s word. May the feeling of suffocation in your physical body remind you of your soul’s chronic need for Jesus, the air and bread for your soul.
Job 33:4 says, The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” (NKJV)
That’s right, Job, the man in the Bible who experienced the greatest of suffering, besides Christ himself, understood his acute need for the breath of God. Without the breath of God there is no life.
In another conversation Job also said, “as long as I have life within me, the breath of God in my nostrils.” Job 27:3 (NIV) Because we have life, we have the spirit of God in us. Just as in the days of creation when God breathed life into the nostrils of Adam.
God is still breathing life into us, through his presence. And feeding us with His word, Jesus.
As I leave you, with the last blog of 2020, and we turn the page to 2021, will you begin the new year with your lungs full of the presence of God? Will you allow him to fill your lungs with the breath of His presence and the food of His word? Will you listen to the lyrics of Breathe, and let the presence of God fill you up full to overflowing?
If you are in a place of desperate need for God, I invite you to grab a copy of my book, Ascent to Know Him: The Quest to Discover More of God. I believe as you read this devotional it will fill your lungs with the air of the presence of God. He’s waiting to be found by you.