Breathe and Believe
by Eitan Shishkoff, Executive Director, Tents of Mercy Network
During a recent stretch of emotional stress, overwhelmed by the demands, opportunities, and life assignments too big for me, I cried out to the Lord. Searching for a way to cope with/get out of that trapped, stuck feeling - a word came to me from an unlikely source. I remembered the technique Connie and I studied in preparation for the birth of our first child.
We were living in the foothills of a New Mexico mountain range, planning to deliver the babe at home, in our rustic adobe hut. Diligently we read about the Lamaze method of childbirth. The key word of the entire method, and what the husband is to repeatedly encourage his wife to do while she passes through the stages of labor and finally pushes out the infant, is - BREATHE! The Lord had my attention, but how was I to apply this one word to my struggle?
"This is beyond me!"
First, I realized that I'm in a birthing process. Like a woman ready to give birth, I am pregnant with the future and its being born - whether I like the timing or not. A birthing mom is subject to a force outside her control. She may suddenly feel, "I can't do this! What was I thinking?" She knows intellectually what's taking place and may have even trained for it. But the experiential reality calls for additional reserves of courage, patience, surrender, and faith.
Hmmmm. That description pretty well matches my situation. Not by chance, breath is that which brings life. "And the Lord God ... breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being" (Genesis 2:7). "Come from the four winds, O breath and breathe on these slain that they may live" (Ezekiel 37:9). "And ... He [Yeshua] breathed on them and said to them 'Receive the Holy Spirit'" (John 20:21).
So easily I get caught up in the "labor pains" and forget to "breathe", by praying, worshiping, turning my attention to the Author of the story I'm living. Yet the new life God intends to bring through us is so worth it. Which brings me to the second priority of being the channel for what God wants to birth in the earth. BELIEVE!
Zechariah didn't believe
Not long after hearing the word BREATHE, I was reading the conversation in Luke between elderly Zechariah, a godly priest whose wife was barren, and the angel Gabriel. I found the angel's words speaking to me! "Don't be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son" (Luke 1:13). For me this was the equivalent of "Don't worry, Eitan. God has heard your prayers. What you have yearned for in Israel will be born." After the angel's riveting description of all that this miracle son will be and do, Zechariah asks a question. "How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years" (Luke 1:18). In other words, "There ain't no way we're gonna have a baby at this stage of our lives. You gotta be kiddin."
At this point, the angel rebukes the servant of God and declares him mute "because you did not believe my words which will be fulfilled in their own time" (Luke 1:20). What Zechariah did not do was BELIEVE. I understood in that moment that, in addition to the instruction to BREATHE, I was also being told to BELIEVE. The birth of the miraculous is the stuff of which our lives are to be made. Yet this impossible outcome defies our natural capabilities and comprehension. That leaves us with the necessity of believing - wholly embracing God's incredible promises and knowing that "faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1).
My conclusion? By remembering to BREATHE and BELIEVE, we will see Israel's revival - the rebirth of a people long separated from our God, unaware of the true Messiah. That will be a miracle worth any intensity of birth pangs.
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