original art: Elizabeth Figgie: http://www.elizabethfiggie.com
Our lungs have, on average, 274-790 million pulmonary alveoli (in zeroes, that’s 790,000,000) through which our lungs and bloodstream exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide. The alveoli seem vulnerable in that their surface is a single-cell thick, but that vulnerability allows them to readily make this exchange with blood capillaries (their endothelial layer also one cell thick). That vulnerability initiates the distribution of oxygen to the cells of our body which utilize the oxygen for energy production. Each cell. Can you imagine us trading any other life-sustaining substance with so little security? It is no wonder that life feels fragile at times; vulnerable, weak, depleted.
In contrast to the vulnerability, the capacity of 790 million hot air balloons, and the lift that might fuel, feels a bit astounding. Even more astounding, is the thought of whose air I might breathe. What kind of potential for living resides in the cavity of my created chest, if I were to breathe, knowing it was the breath of God filling my lungs, my alveoli inflated by the Spirit of the living God?
Isaiah 42:5 reads:
“This is what God the LORD says— the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out, who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it:”
This word breath is described by the Hebrew-Chaldean Lexicon as the Spirit of God imparting life and wisdom. Really? Pure, holy air – available to ordinary mask-wearers? The air we breathe, and the respiratory process, is not some atmospheric curiosity. It is an intricately designed miracle, both fragile and protected, by the one who created it. Our alveoli have repair cells, and surfactant secreting cells to protect the balloons from collapse. Not only did God create the process, but he also protects its function. WHY? Because He wants to give us life, not defined in single measure, but filled to the millions.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10 NIV
At times, God has spoken as a numbers guy – counting the hairs on our heads, the sands on the seashore. I’ve no doubt he knows EXACTLY how many alveoli reside in my chest, and that there is some significance to 790, 000,000. Okay, maybe I only have 538,000,000, but what if I were breathing deeply enough of the breath of God, to fill each one of those? I also imagine he has his own definition of full…
What if, when Jesus spoke the following words, he were speaking to me, or to you…
“Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”
How far and deep could the breathe of Jesus go, if he were breathing life in me, deep into the weighted places in my chest? I’ve seen this, seen friends breathe Jesus air into the vulnerable places of their lives, and exhale offerings of rare beauty to those around them. And what is the significance that as he breathes, Jesus speaks about dispensing forgiveness? If you don’t have a Jesus breather in your life, maybe you need one. Or maybe you would like to become one?
Spirit of God, breathe on me, breathe in me. Fill my lungs with the oxygen of your making, the fuel of your intent. May all that feels vulnerable in me, be filled with your breath, that I may be truly alive. When I exhale, may it be something of your creating. Amen
I got some of my science info from https://www.kenhub.com.
Frequently, I use https://blueletterbible.org for cross-referencing and study, and so that further scripture reference is readily available to you:
“Isaiah 42:5 (NIV) – This is what God the.” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 26 Nov, 2018. <https://www.blueletterbible.org/niv/isa/42/5/s_721005>.
“H5397 – nĕshamah – Strong’s Hebrew Lexicon (NIV).” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 26 Nov, 2018. <https://www.blueletterbible.org//lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H5397&t=NIV>.
“John 10:10 (NIV) – The thief comes only to.” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 3 Dec, 2018. <https://www.blueletterbible.org/niv/jhn/10/10/s_1007010>.
“John 20:21 (ESV) – Jesus said to them again.” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 3 Dec, 2018. <https://www.blueletterbible.org/esv/jhn/20/21/s_1017021>.