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“Breath”, By Brian Flanagan, Fiat Ventures

“Breath”

By Brian Flanagan, Fiat Ventures

Pentecost

The Guinness Book of World Records lists the world record for a man holding his breath to be 24 minutes and 21 seconds.  I’ll admit I was shocked when I looked that up.  I was expecting it to say maybe 7 minutes.  I just gave it a try myself and gave up before the 1 minute mark.

For most of us, apart from the world record holder who apparently was born with dolphin lungs, we don’t enjoy not being able to breathe.  For those with asthma or certain allergic reactions, trouble breathing can be a life threatening situation.  All of us breathe.  All day long (and through the night).  Inhale.  Exhale.  In and out.  We breathe so often we don’t even realize we’re doing it.

This Sunday is Pentecost, the big feast of the Holy Spirit we celebrate every year at the end of the Easter Season when we remember the Apostles receiving the Holy Spirit for the first time.  Usually the images of fire or a dove come to mind when we think of the Holy Spirit, but this year let’s focus on one of the other images that’s often overlooked but no less important.  That image is the Holy Spirit as the “Breath of God”.

If you’ve taken an SAT Prep course recently, you might be used to looking at the roots of different words.  You’ll notice then that the word “SPIRit” has the same root as words like “reSPIRatory;” “spirit” actually comes from the Latin word for breath!

All throughout the Old Testament, there are images of God breathing life into people.  He breathes life into Adam when he creates him.  He breathes into the dry bones in Ezekiel’s vision, bringing them back to life.  Now in the New Testament, God breathes the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles, not in a subtle way, but with a mighty rushing wind.

The Holy Spirit as the Breath of God, then, shouldn’t be an afterthought for us.  It should be one of the main ways that we think about the Holy Spirit, and especially about his work in us.  The Holy Spirit breathes into us, literally in-SPIR-ing us, to do great things for the Kingdom of God.  When you notice a friend who’s having a rough day and you reach out to them, that inSPIRation comes from the Holy Spirit.  When you’re in a situation where you’re tempted to sin but you think twice before giving in, that’s the inSPIRation of the Holy Spirit.  When you find yourself grateful for an experience you just had and you take a moment to thank God, that’s the same inSPIRation.  The Holy Spirit breathes into us, inspires us, and sends us out into the world to do amazing things, just like the Apostles did.

So what is the Holy Spirit leading you to do today?  Think about that this Pentecost, and you might find yourself inSPIRed.

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