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Every Breath I Take

Every Breath I Take

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A couple of weeks ago, I was awakened by a horrific sound coming from the kitchen. I ran in to find my husband unable to breathe. It was just past midnight, and he had been suffering from a terrible cough, when he woke to find himself unable to get enough oxygen into his lungs. Obviously, he was in a panic, for without air, one cannot live. After a time of struggle, he was able to calm down, but he still knew that something was terribly wrong. During all of our years together, we have never had to call an ambulance, so here I was in a German speaking country during the middle of the night trying to communicate what had just happened.

I have to say that the two EMTs were wonderful! They spoke good English, were calm and professional, and were even able to joke with us Americans, knowing that we’d have huge bottles of over-the-counter meds that we had brought back from the US. ☺ It turns out that Greg’s vocal cords were so inflamed that they were blocking his airway. He also was suffering from a viral infection in his lungs, thus compounding the problem.

This situation got me to thinking about a little girl that was born to some of our friends. She had been diagnosed while her mother was still pregnant with a birth defect that was so severe that it literally made life outside the womb impossible. Even so, the parents carried their little girl to full term, and gave birth to her in the hospital. They thought that she would only live for minutes or hours, but she hung on for eight days. One of the family’s friends wrote a poem at that time, stating that her very breath was praise to God. I’ve remembered that for all these years, and just recently found a post by a lady named Daje Morris from 2017. Its title was “to breathe is to worship God.” She said that the Hebrew term for God is YHWH (Yahweh/Jehovah), which are the two syllables in the sounds of breathing in and then breathing out. In other words, every time that we breathe, we are giving praise to God with our very breath! 

There are numerous times throughout the Bible where breath is used almost as a synonym for life. In Genesis, we are told that “the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the BREATH OF LIFE.” In the book of Acts, the Apostle Paul says that “He himself gives to all people LIFE AND BREATH.” In the book of Psalms, we read, “I will pray as long as I have BREATH!” So, yes, breathing is basically synonymous with life, so as long as I have the BREATH to live and to speak, I will praise the Lord. 

So, that horrific night where I watched my husband struggle for every breath, was a visible reminder that it is God who gives us every single breath that we take. 

This is the air I breathe, your holy presence living in me.
This is my daily bread, your very word spoke to me.
And I, I’m desperate for you, and I’m lost without you.

Because of His Faithfulness,

Sharon Brobst, Director

(to listen to the song, “Breathe” by Michael W. Smith, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZHN46gsbLc)

 

 

An Act of Grace

An Act of Grace

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Last week’s news included a knife attack in Paris, 20 deaths in Iraqi protests, unrest in Hong Kong, hurricanes in the Atlantic, a shooting at a retirement community, and the list goes on. But one news story really caught my attention. In the US, there have been a number of police shootings that have involved white policemen and black individuals. This week there was an article about an off-duty cop, Amber Guyger, who had just finished a double shift, when she entered her apartment building on the wrong floor. She went to the apartment directly above her own where a black man, Botham Jean, was seated watching TV. She mistook him for an intruder in her apartment and proceeded to shoot him. It was really his own apartment.  This week she was sentenced to ten years in jail for murder.

What was so astonishing about the case was that the man’s 18-year old brother, Brandt Jean, told the court that despite what his family had lost, if Guyger was truly sorry for what she had done, then he forgave her. He also said that his main desire was not that she serve time in prison, but that she give her life to Christ. Not only did he speak these amazing words, but he then asked to give her a hug, during which time Amber wept at the thought that he would forgive her. You see, Brandt Jean is a Christian, so he  understands what forgiveness and grace are all about. And he doesn’t just understand it. He walked it out in this very visible example of forgiveness and grace. 

Not everyone was inspired by Jean’s actions. Many felt that Guyger did not get what she deserved, which could have been many more years in prison. They also felt that society is wrongfully using the willingness of the black community to forgive. In a way, I can understand their reactions, for it is very hard to get past what is viewed as an unfair consequence for a wrong that has been committed. I’m not saying that she didn’t deserve jail time and that she deserved grace and mercy. That’s why grace is defined as getting what we DON’T deserve, and mercy is not getting what we DO deserve. In this case, Brandt Jean offered forgiveness to his brother’s killer – something that she DOESN’T deserve. He also showed mercy by not wanting retaliation against her by desiring a super long jail sentence, which could be what she did deserve.

For me, this was a very profound example of how we have been forgiven by God who could just as easily have sentenced us to death for our sinful acts. Instead, he treated us with mercy and grace. I am super impressed that this 18-year old could have such a powerful understanding of these deep concepts. May we learn from this simple, yet rather difficult, act of compassion during a most horrific time in their lives.

Because of His Faithfulness,
Sharon C. Brobst, Ed.D.
Director

(Click here to see a video of Brandt’s statement)

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That’s the Point!

That’s the Point!

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One day I noticed a post from a friend on Facebook. It was the picture that you see above – “Actually, He will give you more than you can handle.” The first comment about it was “My mother always told me that God wouldn’t give me more than I could handle.” So which is it?

Without even knowing it, we interpret what we see and learn through our own cultural lens. In the United States, and especially in the northeast where I grew up, independence and self-sufficiency are qualities that are valued. So, when we read a verse like John 15:5 that says, “apart from me you can do nothing,” we tend to manipulate it to fit with what we already believe. We change it to be a half-truth. It’s kind of like, “God helps those who help themselves.” Did you think that this is in the Bible? No, it isn’t. Again, this is the very opposite of what the Bible says. In Romans 5:8, the Apostle Paul reminds us that it was “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Not while we were doing our best or helping ourselves. This is the ultimate example of God’s undeserved love and grace.

So, what about God giving us more than we can handle? If that is true, it sure doesn’t sound fair. Again, the Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth saying, “We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” Paul says that his troubles were so extreme and far beyond our ability to endure, that he thought he would die. This isn’t a man saying, “I’ve got this.” This is someone who couldn’t do what he was being called to do alone. But Paul knew that God was with him and that God who was able to raise Jesus Christ from the dead was in control of the situation. Paul may not have understood or even liked everything that was happening to him, but he had faith in God who has a perfect plan.

So, does God give us more than we can handle? He sure does! Why? So that His power can be seen at work in us and to grow us to become more like His Son, Jesus Christ. Again, the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth telling them that He begged God to take away what he calls “a thorn in my flesh” and God responded with “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Trusting God isn’t easy. But the more we get to know Him, the more we can trust Him, realizing that He has the ultimate good in mind. So even if we don’t always understand the circumstances of our lives, we can place our trust in the Almighty, Sovereign God who loves us more than we could ever imagine. That’s the point!

Because of His Faithfulness,

Sharon Brobst, Director

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