The fact that you can breathe is a big deal.
Human beings enjoy a unique relationship with God. Genesis 2:7 is a clue as to why human life is so important. We do not have a borrowed dignity or manufactured significance. We are not the lesser work of creation, or the subjects of human power. We are not a product of our own imagination, or the construction of depraved imagination. No, we human beings are something glorious. We are the work of God’s own hands. Think about that. Like a sculptor, God shaped you and like an engineer, God designed you. Every human being bears the fingerprint, the imprimatur, and the signature of God.
And if that wasn’t enough, the clue to our significance and importance is the distinction between our personhood and the content of our physical composition. We are not just dust and clay formed in complex and majestic patterns. Read closely that line about how we came to life. In Genesis 2:7, man’s body laid lifeless, in all of its glory and intricacy, until it was directly animated by its creator.
Can you see Adam laying there? He is perfect in composition. Now see God bowing low to the ground. There He goes. Here it comes. The wind of God is blown into the nostrils of Adam. Look at him as he sits up, turns his head and his eyes began to blink. No birth canal. No incubation. No gestation. He rises to a living perpendicular. That’s because breath is a powerful thing.
Anybody who breathes owes their very existence to God. Your every movement is tied to the life that God placed into him. Moses put it this way, “and the man became a living soul.” The house of clay became an interdependent breathing creature.
Maybe that’s why – when under the oppressive knee of another human being – the thought, or the declaration “I can’t breathe,” is such an emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually violent crime. Who are we to stamp out that breath that only God could put in that body?
Breath in the Bible is a sign of power for the powerless. When used to describe God breathing onto or into lifeless bodies, as in Ezekiel 37, we learn something about the magnificence and potency of breath.
This is why when I heard George Floyd eek out the words in a forced whisper, “I can’t breathe” my mind went traveling beyond Eric Garner, through the 1960’s, past 1619, it skipped over the Protestant Reformation, and leaped through the African Church Fathers until it landed in Genesis chapter 2. When I watched the video of another unarmed black man put to death by authorized racism, I considered the fact such a cry as, “I Can’t Breathe” is not merely anthropological, but its theological.
Herein is another reason why You and I need the mind of God. We need to think God’s thoughts after Him. The problem with our culture is a failure to remember from where breath comes. It from God, by God, and one day will return to God. Faithful Christians cannot subscribe to any kind of human supremacy. If we do, it will keep snuffing the breath out of us.
Your breath belongs to God. What you do with it is a measure of accountability before God. God gave you breath. He sustains it. Use your breath wisely as one day it will return to Him.