Today’s Reading: John 20:21-22a (NIV)
21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that, He breathed on them.
It was a surreal moment, almost like reliving a crazy dream. I stood at the window of the NICU at St. John’s Mercy Medical Center, looking through the plate glass at my newborn grandson, Joshua David. He was in such a hurry to be born. Our daughter Rachel went into premature labor in her twenty-eighth week of pregnancy, then spent one month in-patient trying to postpone an early childbirth. Her physicians had done everything within their power to keep Rachel’s labor at bay. But on the morning of July 20th in week thirty-two, Rachel gave birth to her son. Joshua David tipped the scales at five pounds, a good size for a child born in the seventh month. His lungs were underdeveloped, but functioning. He needed help breathing, so his physicians placed him on a ventilator. I watched the air push in and out, forcing his tiny chest to rise and fall. I remember thanking the Lord for His sweet breath of life over that child. One week later, Joshua was off the ventilator and breathing on his own.
The first time I held that precious baby boy in my arms, I could feel the air push from his tiny nostrils onto my skin. I couldn’t help but remember the month I spent in that NICU with my own baby boy. David had been born three weeks premature; suffering with a serious lung infection and a birth defect that was adversely affecting his body to function properly. In 1985, baby heart monitors for premature infants had not yet been approved for home use. When we took David home from the hospital, I laid him in the bassinet next to my bed, and I would sleep on my belly, with one hand on his chest, so that I could feel him breathing all night long. I don’t think I slept much the first six months of David’s life.
Joshua went home with a baby monitor, and what a blessing that was! We could put him in his crib and hear his every move, even from the other room. If his heart rate dropped or if he forgot to breathe, an alarm would sound and we would know to go pick him up, reminding Joshua to take a breath. Sometimes babies do forget to breathe. And we know that the breath of life is an essential and necessary element in order to live.
Jesus knew His disciples were scared. There they were, held up together in the upper room, the last place they had spent significant time with their Lord. They were afraid to go outside the walls for fear of retaliation, failure, and death. Breathing had become a labor of love, as they tried to hide from their adersaries. Jesus came with a greeting of peace. And as He spoke the Word, a holy hush fell across the room just like a warm, woolen blanket keeps you warm on a cold winter’s day. Softly, He said, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that, Jesus breathed on them the breath of new life. His breath became their lifeline, just as the ventilator was the lifeline for my son and grandson in the NICU. Apart from Christ’s holy life breath, we cannot breathe adequately on our own. We need to be hooked up with His breath of life for it is only His breath that sustains and gives us courage to move forward. One holy breath was enough to give the Disciples the strength they needed to step beyond the secure walls of the upper room and go out into the world, just as Jesus commanded them.
Do you need Jesus Christ to breathe a holy breath over your life today? Will it make an everlasting difference between your staying behind in the security of your church’s walls or stepping out into the world to go share the Good News? Lord Jesus, we need Your holy breath right now. Come and breathe on us, sweet breath of God. This is our heart’s desire. Amen.
Grace and peace,
Faith UMC - St. Charles, MO
© Copyright 2009, Deb Spaulding
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