February 3, 2012
Learning To Breathe
Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness (1 Timothy 4:7b, NASB).
Friend to Friend
Before our first child was born, my husband and I took a series of classes to prepare us for childbirth. I vividly remember being told by my Lamaze instructor that while in labor, I would need to breathe through each contraction. She would give us instructions like: “Breathe in through your nose, out through your mouth” and “When you inhale, allow your belly to expand first, then your chest.” She told us that the way we breathe would affect the way we would experience labor.
We spent a lot of time during those week-after-week classes learning how to breathe in a whole new way. We were taught that the breaths we would take during labor would need to be purposed and controlled. They required discipline and were not like natural breathing. So I practiced and I practiced the special breathing techniques in preparation for when the labor pains came a-knocking.
When the day arrived to welcome my firstborn son, Preston Miles Smith, into the world, I learned what a discipline breathing through contractions really is! There were times during labor that I felt like holding my breath instead of breathing. Times when the pain was so intense that my natural response was to scream instead of to breathe. Yes. This type of breathing was surely a learned behavior, a purposed discipline. And on the other side of this purposed discipline, in spite of all the pain endured, I was blessed to experience the wonderful joy of life.
I’ve labored through many hard life experiences since my child birthing days. I’m sure you have too. There are times when circumstances press us in waves, contractions of life that are seemingly endless. When the waves of trials hit our heart and home, the spiritual discipline of trusting God helps us to breathe through the squeeze of each pressure. I like to call it faith-breathing. When we hunker down and put into practice the act – the discipline – of faith.
But what do we mean by “the discipline of faith”?Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever(1 Corinthians 9:24-25).Just like I learned to breathe in preparation for going through labor pains, Christians learn to breathe through life pains when we implement spiritual disciplines in our lives like prayer, fasting, journaling and Scripture reading. They are purposed disciplines that bring joy and strength. The more we pray, the more we grow in intimacy with God. The more we read and know the Bible, the more we understand God’s will and character. We see over and over again that He is good, faithful, compassionate, loving, gentle, just, holy, righteous and trustworthy in all things. We are encouraged and spurred on by the faith of others. We learn to faith-breathe!
The flames of fire have heated up and refined my faith on many occasions! Life is filled with challenges. God is always with us and will help us breathe through the difficult situations we face. He allows us to go through trials as a part of our refining process. Struggles send us running to God for help, for faith, for strength, for protection and direction. They are often pregnant with pain. Bursting with heartache. If we yield them to God, He uses to rid our lives of trust-barriers like fear and doubt, and to bring glory and honor to him. There are many life contractions that hurt us, but there is no earthly pain that can diminish the hope of our salvation. We must simply breath – continue practicing those spiritual disciplines that bind us to the heart of God.
Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work(2 Timothy 3:12, 14-17, NLT).
Trusting God takes discipline. We don’t always feel like it. It’s not always what we want to do. It’s not natural. At times we feel overwhelmed and want to soul-scream. If we always acted on our feelings, our lives would be chaotic messes. As in childbirth, there finally comes the time of deliverance where what is birthed forth to joy is directly the result of the very pain we have gone through.
Dear Father, please teach me to breath! Strengthen me through life's hard labor experiences and help me to practice the disciplines I have learned through your Scriptures. When I feel like screaming through the pain, help me to breath by reading and memorizing your Word, fasting and praying, and meditating on your Truth. Thank you for the strength you will give me as I trust in You.
In Jesus’ Name I pray,
Now it’s Your Turn
Read over the verses below and write them on note card and review them until they are committed to memory.
“…all things are possible with God” (Mark 10:27b).
“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11)
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8-9).
How did today’s devotion connect with your heart? How were you challenged personally? Let’s talk about it on my Facebook page! Meet me at www.Facebook.com/GwenSmithMusic.
More from the Girlfriends
One of the ways we can learn to faith-breathe is to fix our hearts and minds Godward throughout each day. Music can help us do that. Gwen's new CD, Uncluttered is purposed to sweep you away from life-noise and to focus your heart and mind on the one thing that matters: your relationship with Jesus Christ. Uncluttered is now available on iTunes, Amazonor on Gwen’s website: www.GwenSmith.net.
Today’s devotion is an excerpt from Girlfriends in God’s new 12-week devotion book, Trusting God. This is the perfect book for individual study or to work through with a group of friends. With impactful devotions, study questions, journal pages, free on-line video intros, and an index of trust-building Scriptures… this book has everything! Join the faith adventure here: www.GirlfriendsinGod.com/TrustingGod.
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how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Originally published Friday, 03 February 2012.