Is God “in our breath”?

Last week I got this question in from Rhonda:

“I just finished Day 3 and really enjoy it. However, as a fellow Christian, I have a hard time when you say God is in our breath. I don’t feel I can agree with this. The Bible does say God breathed life into man and he became alive. God made us and everything. The Bible does say God is with us. However, Jesus is currently seated at the right hand of God and to be present in the body is to be absent from the Lord. And so… I know God is with us BUT I do not see how He is present in my breath. Perhaps you can explain so I can better understand where you are coming from?”

I think it’s a great question, and so I spent quite a bit of time researching and writing out a long answer, but what I found after I stepped away for a few days is a few simple Bible passages:

Job 27:3 states “as long as I have life within me, the breath of God in my nostrils.” or Job Job 33:4 “the spirit of God as made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”

This is much more active and present than the idea that God breathed life into Adam many years ago. This is real, and happening now. It’s not just a concept, but a reality.

In a similar way, Psalm 104:29-30 describes how God’s creatures live and die by their breath, and God’s breath: “But if you turn away from them, they panic. When you take away their breath, they die and turn again to dust. When you give them your breath, life is created, and you renew the face of the earth.” (NLT)

Now, you can certainly take these passages of scripture (and others: Eph 4:6, Col 1:17, Acts 17:24, 27-28, Isa 57:15, Jer 23:24) and think of them poetically.

But I do believe that there is truth to grasp hold of here. That God actually sustains my life in every breath, giving me that breath. Is he “physically” present in my breath?  That depends on how you understand the theology of the omnipresence of God and the spiritual/physical worlds.

Ah, so much to write about!

Key Point

The Bible is clear on this: God is with you and will never leave you.

If you identify His presence with your breath, at least for the duration of the meditations, I think you will be well served. But if you’re a little uncomfortable with such a physical association, you can back off and simply imagine him sitting with you.

The truth is God is present. Right now. And you can know him.

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P.S. There is another way to think about this that I’d love to expand on sometime: What is breath, exactly?

Is it the air?

No, because the air is there whether we stop breathing or not. Is it the movement of the air?

Better. But not exactly, because a fan moves air and that’s not breath.

When we hold our breath, we stop the lungs from moving. When we catch our breath, we calm down the gasping, unregulated panting and we calm down.

A euphemism for death is to “breathe your last.”

What’s really going on here? Breath is actually a metaphor for life.

It is only a limited and narrow sense of the word to refer to breath as the physical air coming out of your mouth.

The majority of ways of understanding breath actually have more to do with “life” than with “air.”

So when we talk about God being in our breath, it’s also in a greater sense an acknowledgement that he gives us each moment of our life, each and every moment.

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