The God-Given Breath of Life

Behold, You have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before You. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Selah  (Psalm 39:5)

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Penetrating cold. The mother shivers and heads back inside to add more layers, returning to brave the weather with the little boy who has begged to go outside all morning. The cold doesn’t seem to penetrate him though, as he laughs and plays in the snow. Happiness wraps him in warmth, while his breath expels odd shapes in the air. His mittened hand reaches out to hold captive the puffs which only elude him, dissipating too soon in the air. Yet, the hand reaches out again and again to try and capture those fading wisps in the frigid air.

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Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow. (Psalm 144:4)

Someone described seeing your breath when it’s cold “like a puff of warm fog intruding on the cold air.”1 That warmth is the visible presence of life in a cold atmosphere. It is the proof that we are alive, yet it is, also, the warning that this breath lasts only a little while before it expires and is no longer visible. We cannot grasp it in the air and hold onto it.

Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. (James 4:14)

Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring. (Proverbs 27:1)

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The young boy and his mother return inside to the warmth of the house, huddled close on the rocker. He blows outward, but sees nothing and asks his mother why this is so. She ponders how to answer and, finally, tells him that God provides the warmth of a home secure from the cold, so he can’t see his breath inside. She asks him to breathe deeply, hold his now unmittened hand in front of his mouth, and expel the breath. He feels the warm air and blows again and again. This is life, his mother tells him. When we can see and feel the breath from inside of us, we know God has blessed us with more time to be together. The boy smiles at his mother, snuggling closer, the mother capturing the moment in her heart, knowing this time will only last a little while.

For we are strangers before you and sojourners, as all our fathers were. Our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding. (I Chronicles 29:15)

The time of our sojourn here,

Though transient,

 Is a blessing from God.

Breathe deeply. Exhale.

Smile and laugh.

Thank God for the moments.

 

1 Anonymous. Uk.answers.yahoo.com/questions

(Sharon G. Tate  blog 01/14/18)  teacherforjesus.com Meditations on God’s Word

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Prideful Hearts Humbled Before God

pride capital I

When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
but with humility comes wisdom. (Proverbs 11:2)

In Dante’s Inferno, those whose prideful natures brought them to hell are given this punishment: “. . . the proud penitents carrying heavy rocks on their backs. The weight forces them to walk slowly, their bodies bent low to the ground.”1

The irony of this punitive measure is that the proud want to be visibly upright before others in a haughty manner. Carrying this heavy burden, they cannot walk ahead of and are unable to rise before others in a stance that would indicate power, authority and superiority. The “proud penitents” are humbled—in a physical way. Yet, it is one’s mind and soul that must be prostrate before God in a state of true humility– not the mere physical appearance of a submissive form.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up. (James 4:10)

These prideful sinners were not penitent in true humility. In Jesus’s time, the Pharisees were the examples of overbearing pride. Jesus pointed to the Pharisees as those who served themselves and not the Lord, prideful in their accusations against Him and arrogant before others.

39 Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40 You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But now as for what is inside you—be generous to the poor, and everything will be clean for you. 42 “Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone. 43 “Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and respectful greetings in the marketplaces. 44 “Woe to you, because you are like unmarked graves, which people walk over without knowing it.” (Luke 11: 39-44)

Pride before God and others only brings one down, like the sinners depicted by Dante: Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.  (Proverbs 16:18)

God does not accept a prideful attitude of heart: The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished. (Proverbs 16:5)

The Lord Almighty has a day in store for all the proud and lofty,
for all that is exalted (and they will be humbled). Isaiah 2:12

 The burden of those guilty of pride is heavy and unending torture, while the burden of those in Christ is light with the promise of rest:

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

All will be humbled before God. The choice is whether we will do so of our own volition and find peace and rest in the Lord or if we will choose the path of pride and carry that weight on our backs throughout eternity– apart from God.

In what ways do we each need to confess to a prideful heart– and come to Jesus?       

1http://danteworlds.laits.utexas.edu/purgatory/03pride.html

(Sharon G. Tate blog 01/07/18) teacherforjesus.com Meditations on God’s Word