It’s not too often that I hear an analogy as arresting as this one. I was reading recently about one author’s evaluation of where he was at with God physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. What he said he looked for in every area was signs of life: signs of growth, change, adjustments, and ultimately fruit. How wise. I don’t know that it matters so much exactly how great or big any given sign of life in our lives is, as long as we know that the seed is in the ground, it is being watered, and it is budding in some way. God knows. He knows full well that the sweet potato buds differently than the corn does, and on a different time table. Fruit does comes after the bud, but I often forget that. I generally like to throw my personal seeds in (things in my life that I know need work), flood them with a river, and cross my fingers and hope for fruit in the morning. I’m sort of impractical that way. It’s so easy to demand so much of ourselves all at one time that we forget we need time to bud, time to grow. And as time passes, there are few things I’m reminding myself of…
I need to breathe. The interesting thing is, I am able to choose the air that I breathe. Some is refreshing and life-giving, and some is not. If I am breathing air (choosing friends, books, events, pursuits, etc) that is oxygen-saturated, there will be more life because there will be more air. It simply is that way. Anything that is sucking air out of you is taking life away from you. I was shocked to discover at a recent visit to the eye doctor that the brand of lenses I had been using only allowed 34% oxygen into my eye. He explained that this had caused some nerve ending damage but that it would heal in time since my new lenses were going to allow 120% oxygen flow to my eye. Amazing. I had nerve damage because I was seeing through a particular lens. But I would receive healing and restoration because I was now choosing to see out of a different lens. My eye could finally, finally breathe. It reminds me of another story…
A student was airborne with his instructor, taking flying lessons. The instructor told the student to look at the instrument panel. Puzzled, the student studied it, not sure what he was looking for. It seemed pretty dim, but other than that everything looked correct. The instructor reached over and placed the oxygen mask over the student’s face. Suddenly the panels lit up. His instructor hadn’t touched the controls at all. It was the student’s vision. He could not see properly at that height without oxygen. His instructor explained that if oxygen was not used when it was supposed to be, not only would the panels continue to get dimmer and dimmer, but that the student’s mind would also became dangerously foggy and incapable of making good decisions.
Breathing properly and seeing clearly are signs of life.
And you have to see to love.
The very first body part I taught my little girl was the eye. She would poke at it and look at me intently and wait to see if she got it right. Now she can say it. She loves eyes. I want her to always notice them. I want her to notice them because if you see eyes, you often can hear hearts. And if you can hear hearts, you will love better. I want her to love very, very well. Loving well is a sign of life. And I want her to live fully alive.
If you can breathe well, you can see well, and if you can see well, you can love well.
And if you are breathing, seeing, and loving, you will be lifting. You will be lifting others up. You will look for ways to cheer them on, to celebrate them, to help them become every single beautiful thing they were created for. Interesting thing, though, that lifting properly means stooping down.
Serving is a sign of life.
I want to make sure that I am breathing to see, seeing to love, loving to lift up, lifting up to stoop down and stooping down to serve.
“The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing has come…The fig tree puts forth her green figs, And the vines with the tender grapes give a good smell.
Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away!”
Song of Solomon 2:12,13