Friday, October 9, 2015

Are you breathing at full capacity?

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10  "You are better having a friend than to be all alone, because then you will get more enjoyment out of what you earn.  If you fall, your friend can help you up.  But if you fall without having a friend nearby, you are really in trouble."

I was on the phone with a friend today and mentioned that I was having a harder time breathing, especially when I have been working out at the gym.  My other friend had just recently told me that she noticed I was taking very deep breaths even before we started our 3 mile walk.  

So I mentioned that my son Carter let me try 2 puffs of his inhaler, and what a difference that made.  

I could breathe. 

Without effort.  

It was as if I had become so accustomed to not breathing well, that it was my normal.  How do you even know it's abnormal if that's what you have been used to for so long? As I look back, it's kinda comical because my kids would think I was frustrated with them (because it sounded like a heavy sigh).  When in reality, guess I just wanted a little oxygen...call me crazy!

I wonder how often we go through certain seasons of difficulty, not even realizing the toll it has taken on us.  The strain it has caused.  It can feel like drowning in sorrow, and trying to come up for air.  And then we gasp for air, (which probably sounds like my so called 'heavy sigh').  It has just become our normal.  And so we walk around not breathing at full capacity, because it doesn't even register we need a little relief.  Maybe a spiritual inhaler of sorts. Something to open up our airways so that it doesn't take so much effort just to function.

God allows certain storms for a season, and I read recently that 'not all storms are in the forecast'.  But there is no shame for you to accept a little relief, just like an asthma patient shouldn't feel bad about accepting relief from their inhaler.  I think our Maker sometimes has us in certain situations where we need to depend on each other, not just go it alone and be independent.  And although our tendency is to isolate when we are struggling, the most unhealthy thing you can do is to isolate from your 'inhaler'. 

Maybe it's even a lifestyle that we have embraced, not recognizing that it is squeezing the life out of us.  We aren't eating healthy enough, not sleeping enough, running ourselves ragged with our over packed schedules.  Then we run to a doctor only to find out the answer is within our control.  There's no pill that can reverse all of our poor habits and lack of discipline.  (darn it!!)  There are no short cuts.  But we have become so accustomed to functioning with this lack of sleep and nutrition, dragging ourselves around exhausted...that we don't even know that this is abnormal.  It's become our normal.

Sometimes it's helpful when someone recognizes it.  Whether it be my friend noticing my labored breathing before our walk, or your friend who reminds you of the difficult season you have endured.  It's helpful to recognize that we can find relief, whether it be through the Pro Air inhaler or the friendship that allows you to breathe easier...friendship can be oxygen to your soul.  Either way, don't skip your recommended dose.  Your physical and spiritual health is counting on it.

   


Thursday, October 1, 2015

A prison of your own making

I was watching a show called, "Enjoying Everyday Life" where they do prison ministries and give each prisoner a little gift bag including a book on spiritual things.  As I watched the look of joy on some of the faces of these men who are doing life behind bars, they seemed happier than many people who have so called "freedom". 


 It made me wonder about the bars people are behind that aren't visible to the eye.  They may not be an obvious prisoner dressed in stripes, but they are 'locked up' in their own head. 



THEY AREN'T FREE!

You can be more 'free' in a high security prison with limited access to daylight than people with large bank accounts with access to every luxury.  They can feel more locked up than an inmate.  Some definitions of the term 'Prisoner' is:
 
- a person captured and kept confined by an enemy, opponent, or criminal.

- a person who is or feels confined or trapped by a situation or set of circumstances.

Have you ever felt captured by your crazy thoughts?  Do you recognize we all have an enemy that wants to confine us and destroy our very life?  The bible states clearly that we are in a real war for our soul.  Satan wants to destroy us.  And he doesn't want us to experience the real 'freedom' that we are given in Christ.  So he will do whatever he can to convince us we are a convict and we don't have access to certain freedoms.  And we believe it.  We take the bait...hook, line and sinker.  So even though the door of the 'prison cell' is left wide open, we stay in our cell.  Sounds silly, but have you met people like this?  Are you like this?  I venture to say we have all at one time or another been this person.  Freedom is a choice, but we forget.

Some prisoners are held captive against their will, some prisoners are imprisoned because they did illegal things, and then some of us are held captive by ingrained thoughts that war against our mind. 

Are you a Christian POW?  A Prisoner of War is someone, usually a soldier, who is held as a prisoner by the enemy during a war.  But we are soldiers of Christ who can be held as a prisoner by the enemy Satan during the war we face everyday we go into battle.(If we let him.) Remember, we have freedom in Christ, he can't steal that from us.  He will try.  He will persist.  And he will try and wear you out.  But keep in mind that you were bought at a price.  A very high price.  Jesus went to the cross and His life was ransomed for you.  So don't take that freedom lightly.  I'm sure it makes him sad seeing us sit in our little concrete cells when He has provided a way for us to experience such freedom in our lives.

Imagine being a parent and your child was living in this little shack with no electricity and no furniture, and you decide to buy them a beautiful home fully furnished.  Yet they choose to stay in their shack.  Even though what you have offered to them is free to them.  You fully paid the cost.  That's what Christ has done.  He has fully paid the cost for your freedom, but you are choosing to stay in your shack.  Lets venture out and experience the true freedom that only comes through Him.  Lets take off the shackles that have been keeping us immobile.  We've been given the key to the handcuffs we are wearing, we just need to use it.  It's called the bible.  It unlocks all the things that have been keeping you confined.  It's the Owners Manual to how you were designed to operate.  And although its been told that real men don't ask for directions or read owners manuals, this is the time to break that stereotype. ;O)